Apollo Brown and Ras Kass - Blasphemy (Review)

Apollo Brown and Ras Kass - Blasphemy (Review)

"Blasphemy" is a collaborative album between Detroit hip-hop producer Apollo Brown and California native/legendary emcee Ras Kass. The album features guest appearances from Pharoahe Monch, Rakaa Iriscience, Sean Price, Royce The 5'9" and others and is fully produced by Apollo Brown himself. It was released on October 22, 2014 via Mellow Music Group.


1) Next Caller - Skit.

2) How To Kill God - The first song on the album finds Ras Kass attacking major religions over a threatening Apollo Brown instrumental with a chopped up vocal loop, roaring horns and thunderous drums. This cut is kinda like this albums version of "Nature of the Threat" or "Interview With A Vampire" (off of Ras Kass's previous albums, for those that don't know) and it's real dope. Great way to start off the album. - 4.5/5

3) H2O (featuring Pharoahe Monch and Rakaa Iriscience) - Holy shit. The beat on this cut is absolute fire, with Apollo Brown cutting up an old Barbra Streisand sample and then layering it over boom-bap drums. Lyrically the track is just as strong as the production, with Ras Kass coming in first and kicking in some reflective rhymes before Pharoahe Monch just comes in and just shuts shit down. Seriously, Pharoahe's verse might just be my favorite verse of the entire year. This shit is incredible. - 5/5

4) Please Don't Let Me - The instrumental on this joint is real dope as well, with a darker, chopped up vocal sample over stomping drums. The beat kind of reminds me of Mood's "Karma" for some reason. Maybe its the same sample, I dunno. As far as the rhymes go, Ras Kass gets kind of personal on here and raps about his vices and life challenges as well as about his fears. Very nice. - 4/5

5) Strawberry - Ras Kass spits some rhymes about how he "loves women too much to be racist" over a another chopped up soul sample. The beat sounds like something RZA would have produced back in the 90's, something that Ras Kass kind of alludes too when he shouts out Method Man and references "Ice Cream" at the end of the song. This shit is too smooth. - 4.25/5

6) Giraffe Pussy (featuring Royce The 5'9", Xzibit and Bishop Lamont) - This is one of the few posse cuts on the album, with Ras Kass linking up with Royce The 5'9" and Bishop Lamont over a crazy beat. Xzibit is on here as well, but his contribution seems kind of wasted since he just provides the hook. I'd have loved to have heard him spit a verse on here. Oh well, the track is still real nice. The beat is banging, with a spacious sample and ambient synths, and everyone on here kills it with their rhymes. - 4.25/5

7) Roses (featuring 4 Rax) - Oakland's 4 Rax provides the hook on this summery track, with Apollo Brown delivering an instrumental centered around a familiar vocal and string sample while Ras Kass incorporates flower and rose references into his rhymes. The beat is smooth and the rhymes are ill. This shit is dope. Man, so far this album is shaping up to be 'Top 5 of the Year' material. - 4.25/5

8) Deliver Us From Evil - This song is kind of similar to "How To Kill God" in that it finds Ras Kass getting more serious and exploring some religious and Biblical themes over an organ driven Apollo instrumental. Ras Kass has always been one of my top emcees when it comes to tracks like this and this one is no exception. Though not quite as dope as "How To Kill God", this song is still real nice. - 4.25/5

9) Too Much of a Good Thing (featuring Larina) - I've heard a few people say that this song is one of their least favorites from the album and I couldn't disagree more. The beat has a boundless feel, with a vast horn sample over mellow boom-bap drums, and Ras Kass rips it as he rhymes about his open relationship with a bi-sexual woman. The only thing I wasn't feelin' at first on this song was the hook, but it grew on me after repeated listens. - 4.25/5

10) Animal Sacrifice - Ras Kass sacrifices wack emcees over a soulful horn based instrumental that's definitely got me nodding my head. I think this is the first song on the album that finds Ras Kass just going off over the beat and spitting some braggadocios rhymes, which is dope and is a nice way to mix up the feel of the album conceptually. This shit is real nice. - 4.5/5

11) Humble Pi - This was one of the songs released in promotion of the album and it's a banger. The beat is just beautiful, with a chopped up string section sample and some ambient chimes or keys layered over boom-bap drums, and is actually one of my favorites on here. Lyrically the song is fire as well, with Ras Kass just ripping the beat and dropping a ton of knowledge. - 5/5



12) 48 Laws Pt. 1 - Ras Kass gives us his take on Robert Greene's "The 48 Laws of Power", with the Watts emcee describing the first twenty-four rules of the streets/rap game as he sees them. As you should be expecting by now, the rhymes are dope and the instrumental is just as good. That scratching on the chorus is fire as well. Hopefully we get part 2 in the near future. - 4/5

13) Francine - The beat on this cut is classic Apollo Brown, with a sort of spacey sample chopped up over mellow drums. The instrumental has a hazy feel to it and Ras Kass sounds great over it as he spits a vivid street story that effortlessly paints a picture in your mind. Despite all of that, this is probably my least favorite song on the album (and it's still really, really good). - 3.75/5

14) Drink Irish (featuring Slaine, Sick Jacken and Sean Price) - This is the final posse cut on the album and it's definitely a banger. The production is fire, with Apollo Brown chopping up an exotic sample over neck breaking drums, and everyone on here just bodies the beat (especially Sean Price, who I think had the best verse on here). That chorus is catchy as hell too. - 4.5/5

15) Bon Voyage - The final song on the album finds Ras Kass kicking some introspective rhymes about life as well as saying RIP to those that have passed away (rappers and others). The rhymes are heartfelt and the beat is just beautiful, with a somber string sample looped up with static over boom-bap drums, but I think the 2Pac/DJ Premier sample on the chorus makes it all that more potent. Extremely dope way to close out the LP. - 4.75/5

I'm going to rate the album

4.5 / 5

because it's easily one of the best albums of 2014. The production is absolute flames throughout, with Apollo Brown delivering a ton of bangers over of the course of the album. I always hear people talking about how many of his beats sound alike, but I don't think anyone can really complain about how lovely he laced the production on this album. Luckily the rhymes are just as good as the beats, with Ras Kass coming correct on every single track. While that is really no surprise (since Ras Kass has always been a beast on the mic), some of his more recent material wasn't really clicking with me like his older stuff did. That definitely isn't a problem on this release, as Ras Kass shows some amazing chemistry with Apollo Brown and rips every instrumental. I must say, this is the first album in quite a while that I just can't put down and that I pick up on something new with every listen. Don't sleep.


2 comments:

  1. Bon Voyage is the best track on the album. Shit's Fiya!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah that track is banging. I like a few others more than it, but not by much.

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