Apollo Brown & Locksmith: No Question – Enjoyable throwback rap
Apollo Brown & Locksmith
Mellow Music Group
Hip-Hop & Rap
California MC Locksmith joins forces with Detroit beatmaker Apollo Brown for a short slice of boom-bap bliss. No Question finds the two old-minded hip-hop heads indulging in the sounds and styles of rap’s golden age. At just seven songs and a quick intro (short rap albums seem hot right now), there’s no time for wasted motions as Brown serves up a smoky, soulful set of beats. The chopped-up samples nod to J Dilla and early Kanye West, while Litmus blazes as a more psychedelic, spaghetti western sound. Locksmith spits steadily throughout, allowing his blunt style of writing to fully resonate. Childhood is on the rapper’s mind: the high-concept Advice to My Younger Self sees him jump in a DeLorean and offer hindsight knowledge to himself – stay away from drugs, use contraceptives, that kind of thing – while the title track looks back on traumas of growing up (“Kids threw rocks at the house we lived in/ And dead rats in our backyard, who did this?”) It adds up to a svelte release of throwback beats and big-hearted writing that’s short on ingenuity or surprises but never hard on the ear.