Apollo Brown teams up with Chicago emcee Philmore Greene to deliver the incredibly well crafted ‘Cost of Living‘, which is going to launch Greene into the consciousness of a wider hip hop audience and cement the Detroit producer-extraordinaire’s rightful place as one of the most incredible producers in the game. The sonic soundscape that Brown creates, is nothing short of astonishing – and it serves as a score to an audio motion picture with Philmore narrating this journey with impeccable flow and poignant street poetry. This is smoother than the whiskey you find on the highest of shelves.
Philmore Greene displays a mature penmanship, one that not only focuses on being able to deliver his trials and tribulations to hip hop heads everywhere with authenticity, but also pushes the contemplative boundaries and engages the listener in a mutual, reciprocal relationship – if you invest the time to really dig through the content and appreciate the bars, Greene delivers food for thought in the form of verbal degustation – each and every track has something to take away, even if it’s just a taste, paired with Apollo Brown’s decadent production.
How Apollo Brown still flies under peoples radar is astounding. Plenty of people mention the ‘greats’ when it comes to producers, but Apollo Brown has as good of a catalogue as anyone since that ‘golden era’ people seem to get stuck in. His ability to curate and craft a sound, to move the needle through his music and to pair it with artists is seciond to none. Seriously. He’s worked with incredible artists like Joell Ortiz, Ras Kass, Ghostface Killah and PLENTY more, and every album he’s done with them, winds up being at the top end of their discography. Now, with Philmore Greene behind the mic, bringing his own uber-talent and distinctly polished take on concrete anthems, social commentary and introspective tales – you can add ‘Cost of Living‘ to that revered discography.
We’ve been blessed with three tracks prior to the full length – ‘Time Goes‘, ‘Paradise (feat. Evidence)‘ and ‘Steep Life‘, but these serve merely as an appetiser for the album. Fifteen tracks including the intro, and these three joints are FIRE, but as good as they are, they don’t ‘stand out’ from the rest of the album – which is to only highlight the quality of the entire project. There isn’t a second you’ll skip once you press play on this album, I can assure you that, and you will spin it again and again as you try to fully appreciate the intricacies of the production, and try to delve deeper into the layer narratives of Greene. Outside of Evidence, the only other feature is Rashid Hadee, which as a listener I appreciate because there is a really palpable energy and chemistry between Apollo Brown and Greene – so to allow the majority of the album to focus on the audio exploration of this connection is terrific. But Evidence and Hadee and brilliant additions to the album, they fit well and they make an understated impact on the finished product.
This is dusty, it’s dreamy, it’s melodic…. it’s magnificent. Philmore Greene is an exceptional lyricist who operates more in creating verbal visuals as opposed in technically impressive lyrical content. Apollo Brown is a genius, a sonic savant – and ‘Cost of Living’ is going to be one of the best albums you play this year. And next.
Bangers: Keep Goin’, Hittin’ Blocks, Time Goes, Steep Life, Nice to Meet You, Where’s the Love, Free.
Score: 10 / 10. Not much else to say other than this album is flawless. Impeccably brilliant hip hop from the boards to the booth. Philmore Greene is a very special emcee – encapsulating his own grief, pain and experiences and allowing them to penetrate the production with his pen, and Apollo Brown just continues to build an incredible case for one of the most gifted producers to every grace the boards. Together they mesh magnificently, creating an album of audio art that hits you from all angles, and differently on every listen. Get it into rotation and you won’t be able to let it leave.