From the Ugly Heroes to his own solo work, Apollo Brown illustrates his booming vocal and production credits to a forefront on his newest split with partner, Locksmith. Member of the group The Frontline, Locksmith is a deliberate partnership that joins with Apollo Brown to form a standing monument with No Question; one of the brighter displays of lyrical ability and instrumental structure.
While boom bap has been around since hip-hop started, the style has been manipulated slightly over the years to arrange into different artist’s own movements. With Brown and Locksmith, the way that the chord-heavy violins and the real grace behind their sound creates this wonderland within the percussion that relies being along side the two musicians throughout the mix. The introductory track, “Just Ask” which is nothing more than a jazz-influenced diamond that slowly draws back the curtain on No Question. The sizzling hi-hat which is paired with the absolute gentle workings of the piano and keyboards that start to reveal the inner peace of the record; it is quickly apparent that Brown and Locksmith are going to form a quick, but substantial offshoot of their careers.
Matching styles on the track, “Advice to My Younger Self” which features Locksmith handling the vocal aspect while Brown molds to create the instrumental backbone. “I hope you don’t put your faith in man, it never helps. Even trust could be a vice, some advice to my younger self” Locksmith explains behind the glossed beauty where the simple, but effective production continues to become a standard for the record. No Question might not attract the listener on the rhyming schemes which is often lyrically heavy and focused on opening a deeper message. There is however a large focus on the production that is shifted like sandcastles by Brown who does excellent job on the vivid musical scene.
Brown creates the first initial impact that draws the listener in as Locksmith can keep them in tight with the descriptive storytelling elements of graphic detail of his earlier life as a young hip-hop artist. He also explains in impressive detail, shown best on “Litmus” his disdain for the current direction for most hip-hop of the modern day. “By and large I try to dodge, the fire’s strong. Arm of opinions that barely follow entire songs. I was wrong, decided to write up higher psalm. Tried to buy us time, was tired and couldn’t find a brawn.” Through the simple, but layered production; Locksmith is able to command the foreground and work as the bigger staple of the album.
The two working together is important however as they provide a different sound in modern hip-hop. Apollo Brown who is well known for his adaptability and Locksmith who is a better wordsmith than anything use No Question to make one of the better underground releases of the year.