Ugly Heroes, a trifecta rap group from Detroit, Michigan that effortlessly blends classy instrumentals and witty rhyming to create some beauty from the Motor City. Comprised of members, “Apollo Brown” (Erik Stephens), “Red Pill” (Chris Orrick), and “Verbal Kent” (Dan Weiss), who together work as a deadly, verbal hydra who tag-team their newest release, Everything in Between.
Released June, 24 under Mello Music Group which is an independent record label based out of Tucson, Arizona. Ugly Heroes joined their roster after rapper and producer Apollo Brown released some of his first works and acted as a launch pad for Ugly Heroes to come in with a different look to hip-hop music. Focusing on “The heroes that work hard all day, everyday to help ensure that the lives around them are taken care of, and do it all without recognition.” This has been The Ugly Heroes’ motto and shall remain as they continue to boost their life stories into masterpieces with each graceful step.
Kicking things off with the track, “Today Right Now,” The Ugly Heroes use sampling to display a question to the audience, “Have you ever figured out what you’ll be like in a few years? Why don’t you look ahead?” This then plays into the first verse coming from Red Pill where he starts rhyming over an instrumental that focuses on a boom-bap style of a percussive beat with a string ensemble that creates a great amount of prideful stride. Red Pill proudly marches over with giant steps and comes in questioning life with his verse, “I don’t know what I’m here for, I don’t know what the point is. [I] spent so many nights alone, sipping this poison. All of us trying to find it, some of us call it purpose.” The message is powerful, and creates an existentialist point of view onto what people of a society are truly doing, then as “Today Right Now” progresses into the hook or chorus of the track, Verbal Kent explains, “No one’s ever promised tomorrow, I’mma be who I am and you are who you are. Let’s let the past be that, the shit is over why overreact? No one’s ever promised tomorrow…” Kent then jumps into his verse directly after the hook and brings an uplifting factor which differentiates from Red Pill’s verse.
Opening with, “No matter what road I travel on, add a little something to the catalog.” Verbal Kent is more of a philosopher that simply rides on the instrumental and both Red Pill and Kent create an astounding level of chemistry on the track that really flows into the rest of Everything in Between. Even the instrumentals of the tracks bring out the best of the MC’s present and challenge, but also create situations where the lyrics can fully flow and act more as a catalyst for the rappers.
Following is the track, “Daisies” which uses a huge focus on piano and more string ensembles that create this floating style of instrumental. There are also flutes present that subtly add background noise between the tapping hi-hat and the mostly muted bass and snare. This is where the “classiness” of Ugly Heroes can shine through and create truly beautiful hip-hop music. The instrumentals alone can become their own tracks and the verses are outstanding additions in creating one of the better projects coming out of 2016.
Verbal Kent and Red Pill are going to be the main vocalists on Everything in Between, however, where The Ugly Heroes truly capitalize is on their production. Tracks like “This World,” “Peace of Mind,” “Can’t Win For Losin,’” and “Unforgiven” shows their true muscle and together create larger than life stories that act as groundwork for Ugly Heroes’ tracks. The group works together in what seems like an effortless move to create and establish a social statement on daily life, society’s changes, and the sacrifices that the Ugly Heroes make for us everyday.