Apollo Brown / Planet Asia

Anchovies

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    7
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Michigan-based producer Apollo Brown and California MC Planet Asia teamed up for Anchovies, an album that proudly declares its status as an acquired taste. Brown's beats typically crib from soft rock and syrupy soul records, with plenty of clipped vocal edits, all laced with thick layers of vinyl crackle. Unlike some of his other productions, this one doesn't feature hard, booming drums; instead, the beats slowly simmer and make way for Asia's tough lyrics. Having been in the game for two decades by this point, Asia has no problem stepping up to the mike and delivering rhymes with swiftness and confidence. His lyrics often address the realities of street violence, with "Deep in the Casket" detailing the undertakings of crime organizations. Other tracks are more introspective and reflect on the devastating effects of such violence; the chilling "Pain" relays tales of fallen comrades over a sorrowful backing track, with Asia in disbelief that he even has to talk about such tragedies. On many other tracks, though, he flaunts his prowess on the mike, defying haters and putting down weak rappers on rough boasts like "Get Back." On "Diamonds," he compares his art to both Michael Jackson and Michaelangelo in the same breath, and claims to have a bigger discography than dancehall king Sizzla. The combination of hard rhymes and soft music might come off as disconcerting to some listeners, hence the "ain't for everybody" warning near the beginning of the album, as well as its title itself, but it would seem more jarring if Brown and Asia weren't so highly skilled at their respective crafts.

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