#Post Rare Hip hop Facts
1 Will Smith is cool with Eminem http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.24049/title.will-smith-reporte...
Name The Five Worst Things About The Rapper You Stan The Most.
Doesn’t brush his teeth; only uses Listerine for his teeth. Smells like crap according to Schoolboy Q ...
Best Adultery Related Song?
I’ve heard plenty of rappers discuss love and heartbreak, sometimes they cheat on the girl, sometimes ...
What rappers/artists have you recently gained an interest in?
TECH N9NE I finally got into listening to Tech N9ne and was listening to his new Something Else alb...
Kendrick Lamar Responds To Bob Dylan Comparison
If your favorite dead rapper was alive where do you think he'd be today?
I was just thinking, and I wonder if Big L were still alive today, where do you think he’d be? Would h...
Best tracks on Donuts?
I’d say “Workinonit” “Time: The Donuts of the Heart” “Lightworks” “Two Can Win” and “One For Ghost”
Does everyone have a talent in life?
I just want to do something,but I can’t figure out what. How can you find your natural talent? Thid id...
AB-SOUL HAS OFFICIALLY MET JAY-Z!
Soulo and Hov better get to stretching for those laps they have planned. This is awesome!
AN INTERACTIVE CYPHER
SIMPLE RULES. TYPE OUT 4-8 BARS. THE WORD SOME ENDS WITH, YOU START WITH. IF YOU POST YOU CAN GO AGAI...
What Artist Does Your School Stan the Most?
Mine: Kendrick and Em …
Best Golden Age Rappers
Put them in order from best to worse. Slick Rick, Kool G Rap, Rakim, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Craig G...
Section. 80 mann
you have probably heard of this album by Kendrick lamar, imo this was pure gold! i like every song of ...
Apollo Brown + O.C. - Trophies (efemjay's album review)
Bad Mix Robs Hip-Hop of Potential Classic
Apollo Brown + O.C. — Trophies
“Everybody wants their trophy. What, is that supposed to tell me that you did something? I don’t need no goddamn trophy, or award, or recognition.” These are the opening words of Trophies, the 15-song collaborative effort between young Detroit producer Apollo Brown, and veteran Brooklyn emcee O.C., and whether they want the recognition or not, Trophies deserves as many awards as its creators can carry:
- Best Album-Length Rap-Vocal Performance of 2012: O.C.
- Most Original Rap-Music Composition of the Year: Apollo Brown.
- Most Inspirational Hip-Hop Production: Apollo Brown.
- Comeback Artist of the Year: O.C.
Unfortunately, the awards and recognition can’t end there, as Trophies deserves some Hip-Hop Razzies, too, most notably Worst Mixed Professional Release of… Ever? — and this dubious distinction has robbed the world of what could have been a true hip-hop classic.
For those unfamiliar with the process, here are the steps typically involved in getting a hip-hop record from the artists' imagination to your CD player or iTunes library:
- The producer/beat-maker composes the musical elements of the song. Each sound is typically given its own dedicated track so that effects can be added, and adjustments to the relative loudness of each sound can made, later by the mixing engineer.
- The emcee writes his rhymes to the beats.
- Everything’s recorded.
- A mixing engineer, sometimes the producer himself, adds compression, equalization, panning, reverb, and other effects and adjustments to each sound in order to glue together all of the song’s elements, including the vocals.
- A mastering engineer, who is almost always someone otherwise uninvolved with the project, makes minor adjustments to the finished songs, boosting the overall volume of the stereo mix-downs and making sure the final product will sound as good as it possibly can in as many playback situations as possible.
Either the mixing engineer or the mastering engineer — or both — dropped the ball here, as Trophies is literally the worst-mixed professional recording I’ve ever heard. The biggest problem is that the bass is almost always way too loud and way too wide — it takes up too much of the frequency spectrum, crowding out other instruments and making the entire low end of almost every song sound like mud. This isn’t as noticeable on computer speakers, headphones, or even most car stereos, but listening to Trophies on a quality home system or professional studio monitors makes all of its sonic flaws as obvious as a one-pound zit on an otherwise beautiful woman’s face. If mixing and mastering engineers do their jobs, then an album should sound good on all playback systems — Trophies is downright unlistenable on some, and that’s a major problem. However, if you want to bump Trophies on your iPod, you may be none the wiser, and in this case, ignorance truly will be bliss, because Trophies is one of the best hip-hop albums you’ll ever hear from a purely compositional standpoint.
First of all, O.C.’s performance is flat-out flawless. It is the greatest album-length rap performance by any emcee in 2012 — at least that I’ve heard. Better than Nas, better than KRS-ONE, better than Killer Mike, better than Aesop Rock. This is a comeback album for O.C., but it sounds like he’s been here for years, and he’s never lost a step. O.C. spits his rhymes with the confidence of a wise, old sage; an elder statesman of hip-hop. Every song has a solid concept thoroughly developed by O.C., and while the LP isn’t littered with quotables or disposable punchlines, it is a masterful demonstration of what hip-hop lyricism and vocal delivery should be. As far as O.C.’s contribution is concerned, Trophies deserves 5 mics — and I don’t throw that distinction around lightly.
Now, as for Apollo Brown, the sub-par sound quality of Trophies is at least partially his fault, as his beats are so densely packed with sounds spanning the frequency spectrum, that he made mixing the record a challenge. And, while the ideas behind Apollo’s beats are creative, ambitious, innovative, and sometimes even awe-inspiring, the execution is rarely as good as the vision. Take the album-opening “The Pursuit” for instance: It’s a beat that’s 95% of the way there, but some amateurish errors lead to a cacophonous calamity. “The Pursuit” is melodically driven by a bass line that’s several decibels too loud and hundreds of Hz too wide, and the resulting muddiness is compounded by a sub-bass kick drum that fights with the bass line on every downbeat, as well as lower-register piano keys that further sully the bottom end on every three-count. What was Apollo thinking having three bass elements in the same frequency space?
Still, in spite of his occasional missteps, Apollo’s beats are always interesting, even when they don’t quite work, and no one could ever accuse Apollo of being anything less than creative — except for when it comes to his drums, which are usually stiff and lacking any semblance of classic hip-hop swing. Nevertheless, Brown’s tracks are cinematic and inspirational — inspiring enough to coax the legendary O.C. out of semi-retirement and into the best full-length performance of his life! Yes, I’m saying that O.C. comes tighter on Trophies than on Jewelz, or even Word… Life. Is this album as good as those two? Not even close — but it could have been, had the mix been better. And, if O.C. didn’t write his rhymes to Apollo’s beats, then I’m even more impressed with Apollo for serving up such fitting backdrops for Omar’s next-level concepts.
The best track on the album is without a doubt “Anotha One,” which is O.C.’s homage to the good herb. This is unlike any weed ballad you’ve ever heard — a grown-folks' smoker’s song. O.C. talks about how he earns blue-collar dollars for his fam, and how, after a hard day at work, he likes to unwind by burning trees in the privacy of his own home. The imagery of O in his fenced-in yard, watching the Yankees on his laptop while getting lifted, makes you want to do the same, even if you don’t like baseball… or weed! And Apollo’s laid-back musical accompaniment is spot-on here, with a string arrangement that may not be physically addictive, but is habit-forming nonetheless.
“The Formula” is my pick for second-best cut, with another dope, cinematic, and honestly pretty-organic sounding synth-string arrangement providing the backing for O.C.’s unanticipated tribute to The D.O.C. “Nautica” is another remarkable joint, where O.C. rhymes almost from the perspective of a hurricane — how’s that for original? Other standouts include “The First 48” and “Just Walk,” which flip familiar 70’s vocal samples for their hooks, and “Caught Up,” on which Father O advises young women against taking the promiscuous path.
Eighteen years in the game, O.C. has given the performance of his life. Young Apollo, by contrast, has yet to reach his peak — at least, I hope this isn’t the apex of his career, as he clearly has the potential to be one of the best who ever did it. Brown is one of the most creative producers I’ve heard in a some time, a virtual master of virtual strings. His compositions build tension; usually with synthesized violins, violas, and cellos; and with great use of dynamics: slow attacks and decays; painstakingly realistic tremolo effects. Brown is more of a legitimate composer than a mere “beat-maker,” and that’s why it’s so strange that his drums are so stiff and clearly quantized — except the few instances where his hi-hats are annoyingly off-beat, such as on “The Pursuit” and “Nautica.” Another complaint I have is the downright insulting addition of phony “record noise” at the beginning and end of each song — vintage hip-hop has natural grit; don’t fake the funk, Apollo, it’s tacky. And for an album supposedly reviving the golden age sound, a DJ’s presence is sorely lacking here, save for the inauthentic one-note scratch on “People’s Champ.”
Am I being harsh on this record? Damn right I am. It’s one of the most frustrating albums I’ve ever listened to, because it’s so excruciatingly close to deserving a full 5 mics, and yet so far away. If Trophies had been created in the era it aspires to emulate, then industry professionals wouldn’t have let it see the light of day in this sorry sonic state. Not only would the mix have been saved by a pro like Eddie Sancho or Bob Power, but an executive producer like MC Serch (who executive-produced Word… Life as well as Illmatic) would have asked Apollo to tighten up his drum tracks, too. If these same steps could have only been taken in 2012, then Trophies may have gone down as the best album by someone other than Kanye West or Jay-Z this millennium. But the realities of the music industry have changed: budgets are lower, professional services are skimped on, and most listeners can’t even be bothered to tell the difference. In fact, it’s possible that this seemingly botched mix-job was intentional, as the bass on Trophies is cranked up loud enough to be audible on cheap computer speakers, which seems to be the most common music-listening medium these days. Trophies is better than that, though, or at least it should have been.
1. Trophies (–)
2. The Pursuit (3.0/5)
3. Prove Me Wrong (3.5/5)
4. Nautica (4.0/5)
5. Anotha One (5.0/5)
6. Disclaimer (3.5/5)
7. We the People (3.5/5)
8. Signs (3.5/5)
9. The First 48 (4.0/5)
10. Angels Sing (3.5/5)
11. Just Walk (4.0/5)
12. The Formula (4.5/5)
13. People’s Champ (3.5/5)
14. Options (3.5/5)
15. Caught Up (4.0/5)
16. Fantastic (3.5/5)
4.4/5 with my $5 headphones
BAN OP! BURN HIS CHURCHES! RAPE HIS WOMEN!
It’s still 5 mics in my book.
I don’t own a 1000$ pair of headphones.
Still top 5 this year probably.. you say it’s the best though? Then you say better Nas, better than KRS-ONE, better than Killer Mike, better than Aesop Rock.. I don’t have any of those albums top 10..
How do you think it stacks up to the Casual & J. Rawls album? The Gift of Gab album? JJ DOOM album? K-Rino album? Lushlife album? Illogic Ep? etc.
Either way, solid review and it was an amazing album.. I never heard any sonic flaws in it as you mentioned playing it in both my car and ipod so I can’t even knock it for what you’re saying.
w8 shane, i’m pretty sure you said LIG is top 5 this yr lol
@Shanee — I have to clarify: I said that O.C.’s performance was better than any other emcee’s (that I’ve heard this year), not that this album was the best. And I haven’t heard any of the albums you asked me about. I wasn’t really even aware of any of them except JJ DOOM. You really think they’re all better than Killer Mike?? Did you not like Killer Mike? (I’m not familiar with Lushlife or K-Rino, btw). Thanks for the tips on other stuff to check out. I’m still making my way through reviewing the albums I’ve already bought from 2012, but if you’re saying all of those are better than Killer Mike, then I might have to abort mission and check some of ‘em out… Did you like The Alchemist’s album, by any chance?
@garg nah lol.. it was pretty good though.
@efemjay yeah I like them all better than Killer Mike’s album.. but for me I don’t really care for him/his album so to each their own there. Just a preference lol.. but yeah I would definitely check all of those out, definitely worth it.
Also, yeah I listened to it but didn’t like it a whole lot.. I mean the beats were dope, don’t get me wrong I just don’t like listening to a lot of just instrumentals lol.. kept a few of the tracks with features though.
Did you like The Alchemist’s album, by any chance?
If you mean Russian Roulette…I hated it tbh. Beats were pretty bland IMO. Most of the verses were on-point though