T has been patiently waiting, so let’s get into some Army of the Pharoahs material that I don’t hate. The album stream is embedded at the bottom.
I think Apathy is probably my favorite white rapper. Or maybe El-P. Both are clearly attached to the East Coast boom-bap that I love, and both SPIT. Where El-P’s music is very personal and often sonically and lyrically challenging, Apathy has much more of a back-to-basics ethos that makes him instantly likeable for any fan of hard beats and boastful lyrics. Lucky for us, none of that changed with Connecticut Casual, his 2014 album.
So what’s to like here? First, the beats. The bass booms, the snares are perfectly sharp, and nearly every sample is used perfectly. Money Makes the World Go Round uses strings to create an eerie backdrop for criminal verses, while Locals Only!‘s celebratory horns expertly match the verses that overflow with esteem. Other samples include an iconic Red Hot Chili Peppers vocal from their song, Under The Bridge, and the instantly recognizable saxophone from George Michael’s Careless. No, not everything is as obvious as those last two, but it’s all that good.
Second, but far from inconsequential, is Apathy’s lyrical prowess. I could quote these tongue-twisters all day, but I’ll just give one of my favorite moments. This is from his verse on Locals Only!:
what I’m rappin ain’t fiction, it’s only fact when it’s written
so just imagine me bragging, it might be something like
jacking a jet liner to China, the baddest momma inside
with a stewardess, suckin cock in the cockpit
her vagina getting my sperm, the 9-11 inside her
the size alone is like a saber tooth tiger’s major incisors
no survivors beside us, cause no opponents defy us
the flyest, so why I see rappers all biased
it’s like the heavens supply us, and if it ain’t written by us
then don’t buy it, just shut up and listen and be quiet
You just might be dead inside if that’s not impressive. Elsewhere, Apathy does give a few deeper topics a workout, including drugs on Connecticut Casual (featuring the aforementioned and greatly thematic Chili Peppers vocal), and getting in fights over women on Beefin’ Over Bitches. So while Ap spends a lot of time talking about his own skills, he deals with his home state’s scenic reputation and ugly underside enough that the Connecticut theme is very much done justice.
So is this a perfect album? Not quite. Whenever I haven’t liked something from Apathy, the beat has always been a main culprit. He’s prone to experimenting with catchy sounds and these often completely miss me. On Connecticut Casual, that’s The Grass Ain’t Greener. It has a downbeat hip-hop sound with a softly sung hook that makes no audible sense when put with all the bangers here. That Apathy chooses a fast but boring delivery and flow solidifies this song as the worst here. Underground Chick also does nothing for me, mainly due to its hard-rock inspired beat that feels derivative and does nothing to inspire special verses from Apathy.
Those are the only two weak spots on this album, and I’m perfectly happy with the other 10 songs (no skits, no intro, thank God!) Apathy’s always been a fantastic rapper who I’ve felt has only needed more focus, and Connecticut Casual is proof of what he’s capable of when he has a decent theme and plenty of that focus. A little more could have made this flawless, but it’s still a great album that I’m happy to not have missed forever.
- Grand Leveler
- Connecticut Casual
- Locals Only! featuring ANoyd
- Money Makes the World Go Round featuring Hayze and Kappa Gamma