If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including Apollo Brown & Planet Asia's "Anchovies" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!
Apollo Brown & Planet Asia :: Anchovies
Mello Music Group
Author: Sy Shackleford
"My first time hearing a beat by Detroit's Apollo Brown initially had me thinking the words "9th Wonder" because of the drum snares and similarly-chopped samples. Further listening proved that Apollo has a style of his own. True, he samples and chops, but he also layers his samples very well and has a larger sample palette ranging from vintage R&B to obscure classic/progressive rock. Providing his style to other emcees on collaborative albums was shown to be a winning formula for him. From "Trophies" with O.C. in 2012 to "Blasphemy" with Ras Kass in 2014, he was two-for-two in ensuring that the voices of hip-hop's elder statesmen would remain heard. Enter Planet Asia. The former Cali Agents emcee has had a prolific career himself, dropping several solo records since 2002 along with several EPs and copious mixtapes. Having come off the "Unfinished & Untitled" album with Ohio emcee Copywrite this year, his collaborative efforts showed no signs of ceasing in 2017 upon announcing a joint album with Apollo Brown. Titled "Anchovies", it's a subtle reference of what to expect from this album: Either you love it or you hate it. It's a middle ground for me, not extreme ends of the spectrum. Planet Asia does what he does with his raps, but Mr. Brown's experimentation in his sound greatly diminished a vital hip-hop musical element that causes "Anchovies" to suffer: Drums. The samples comprising Apollo's beats on this album are largely vinyl-crackling vintage soul sounds looped in similar patterns. While the samples are well-chosen and placed, there's very minimal drums, or at least none that he himself added. There are very mild drums within the samples used, but definitely not enough to make your head nod. The Alchemist is the only other sample-based producer who's been following a similar minimalistic style: Quiet storm productions laced with hardcore rhymes. Apollo also adds, as he has done on previous albums, obscure dialogue samples from old movies. Asia himself stated on "Panties in a Jumble" that "this shit ain't for everybody, man". He's right, and that was the intent: A product that was deliberate in its divisiveness among listeners."
21 Savage x Offset x Metro Boomin :: Without Warning :: Slaughter Gang/Epic Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"A few months back when I reviewed 21 Savage's major label debut I noted that "Metro Boomin (produced) over 50% of the beats" on the release. On "Without Warning" that percentage was upped so substantially that Boomin actually wound up with billing on the cover of the album. The 50% number still comes into play though as 5 of the 10 tracks here are CO-PRODUCED by M.B. along with somebody else - Cubeatz, Bijan Amir, Dre Moon or Southside. Since I have no way of knowing where their contributions end and M.B.'s begin I'm just going to roll with him as one third of a trio. Who's the other third though? That would be Offset from Migos, who seems to be putting in overtime on his hustle ever since getting out of prison just over two years ago. The first song that caught my ear off this album was "Ric Flair Drip" - a pro wrestling inspired track well timed to catch a publicity wave stemming from Flair's ESPN 30 For 30 special. Multiple hip-hop artists were interviewed throughout the course of the special, all stating that Ric Flair's cocky strut and personality were an inspiration for their own larger than life attitude and swagger as rappers. This song became so big that even with no official video, the official audio track alone did 11 million views, and much like Savage caught the "WOOOO" wave a lot of dancers blew up with their own videos just dancing to the song."
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