As an avid fan of the irrepressible Mello Music Group roster, the honour bestowed upon me in my first ‘Jyeah, I am now a part of the Grindin’ fam’ opportunity, was certainly befitting. The significant impact Apollo Brown has had in shaping and continually evolving the careers of artists including Oddisee, Guilty Simpson & Gensu Dean is immeasurable. Thus to review an album whereby Apollo Brown has dedicated significant time and effort to Verbal Kent and Red Pill, two relatively unknown artists, is certainly an exciting proposition and worthy of a review.
Rather than the stereotypical hard-hitting intro to an album, the opening track DESPERATE envelops the listener through a mellow yet lyrically insightful platform underpinned by struggles, desperation and life’s ever-present challenges. The lackadaisical temperament is indicative of the tone of the track; yet will this be the standard upon which this album will be judged.
A complete change of tact, complimented by a classic Apollo Brown chopped up sample and drums provide GOOD THINGS DIE with the consummate tune for the heads. Red Pill’s intent through his hardheaded disposition comes to the fore, riding the sample like a general ready for battle. The introspective sentiment passionately conveyed on LONG DRIVE HOME gives credence to the battles we all face each and every day. Verbal Kent opens his heart with power-fuelled authenticity.
For me, perhaps the standout track is GRAVES, an introspective look at the notion of work, and how the interpretation of such a practice can have such different effects and meaning for us all:
“You can’t afford to walk up off the job
Cause you gotta get your money and your money is your god
So now at least seven days a week
You see me trading in my soul for somebody to keep…”
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, a boom bap reality check and the powerful SWEET LOVE, a track that exemplifies the signature chopped up sample sound of Apollo Brown take this album to a whole different level. Consider the bar raised, and the praise and rewards shall be received in due course…
Consolidation and consistency are appeasing factors that drive the intent throughout this musical journey. The crunching vocal sample on THIS IS LIFE, a journey into the inner sanctum of the urban working class plus the proverbial ‘lets rock party raps’ track IMPAIRED JUDGEMENT will bestow the listener with an insight into a descriptive and visually challenged ‘life after dark’ steeze.
The lax disposition and fluent narrative intertwined with the meticulously crafted beats imbue the listener with a premonition of unswerving and incremental tunes of grandeur; and with style and grace, the desired outcome has been achieved. The confidence espoused by Verbal Kent & Red Pill, albeit being new to the grand stage, are the signs of approval sought and most definitely achieved. Mello Music once again brings the heat, and all wait in anticipation what other musical gifts shall be shared to the masses by this highly talented conglomerate over the coming months…