Thirty Eightis consistently dope in its use of soul samples and skillfully mastered percussion. It’s a definite winner for Apollo’s discography. The album’s 22 tracks transition seamlessly back and forth between the passion and grime unique to Detroit’s music scene. Apollo’s heavy use of sampling only add to the project’s sense of drama, while the constant minor keys give an air of melancholy and nostalgia. The samples on the album are the only source of vocals as they resurrect the sounds of Motown-esque recording artists and classic Hip Hop lyricists like Nas. For example, tracks such as “Learn the Meaning” and “Shotguns in Hell“help showcase just how versatile Apollo can be while choosing music to sample.
Other stand out tracks on the album include joints like “Never Disappear,” which features an Aretha Franklin sample from the song “Long and Winding Road”. Sweet Revival, which has a dark and eerie, Wu-Tang feel to it, and “The Warning,” which relies on a impressive set of trumpets to carry its boom-baps, also serve as fan favorites.
The album’s specific aesthetic is manifested not only in its sound, but also through its visuals. The unique film poster that serves as the album’s cover art sets the tone for a gangster movie soundtrack and the sound score follows this style exactly. The pile of sepia-toned 38 millimeters and grey scale back ground on the front cover compliment the “accidental” crackles and cigarette marks that litter the compilation. The only think missing is a black and white photo of Denzel Washington, circa American Gangster.
In its simplest form, Apollo’s Thirty Eight perfectly captures the essence of hip-hop sampling. Despite the album’s intentionally gritty sound, it is clear through the project that Apollo’s attention to detail in his samples and rhythms make are nothing below perfectionist level. In fact, Apollo has said himself, “Everything I make, I try to make it my favorite album of all time.” If you want to hear Thirty Eight live, be sure to catch Apollo Brown on the official Thirty Eight Tour.
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