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Apollo Brown & O.C. - TrophiesMello Music Group

O.C. & Apollo Brown

This 16 track LP – released by Mello Music Group – is everything you love about hip hop music. That perfect duo of an MC and DJ both giving their best and, as a result, producing something special. Pure hip hop. One thing that highlights both Apollo Brown and O.C.’s brilliance is the absence of features or guest producers. The duo stands on their own merits — one, a time-tested MC with a catalog dating back to the golden era, the other, a relatively-fresh face, quickly making a name for himself at the forefront of hip hop’s boom bap resurgence.

The theme of Trophies recognises a modern fascination with physical trophies and awards. However, the subject is not limited to this. O.C. shows masterful wordplay, using “trophy” to reference a range of things, from superficial earnings, prestigious awards, fancy cars, to jewelry and women. We’re all familiar with the music that idealizes the pursuit of riches — trophies — and, having a counter-point to that superficial message is a refreshing change of pace.

Everything about O.C.’s rapping is appealing. He is a great story teller and has the ability to get his point across with great ease, painting a vivid picture of his subject. He is one of only a select few rappers that can make a “smoking” track appealing to me personally. Hehas the ability to take something common and transform it into a great, finished article. He displays this in “Anotha One” with great skill. O.C. has a smooth flow and strong, crisp delivery that gives his rap the fullest impact. He, like the whole album, is consistent throughout. There are no down sides.

All of the album’s production is expertly handled by Detroit’s Apollo Brown. He shows immense talent from start to end. If I were to pick a stand-out beat from Trophies, I would instead hand you the complete album. Every beat is so precise, and works fluidly within the body of work, it would be impossible to single out a particular achievement. Clearly no corners have been cut in production. Apollo’s powerful sound helps to magnify the already-incredible flow of O.C.. The D-town producer shows great versatility; he creates both exquisite low-tempo beats as well as high-impact head-nodders — a truly masterful showing for the beatsmith.

Now for the weakness of Trophies… Umm… Err… There are none. The combination of rapper and producer has created something special. It is a captivating album from the beginning of track 1 to the end of track 16. If this is the best album you hear in 2012 it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

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