The city of Chicago has struggled to develop an identity in the spectrum of hip-hop for years. From early on Chicago proved to be a hungry market for hip-hop music, and the culture flourished across the city. However, local hip-hop artists could never seem to rise any higher than the skyscrapers that marked their skyline, and their fame never seemed to spread outside the city limits. With artists like Common displaying conscious rhymes and clever word play, and others like Twista relying on street ethics and a high-speed delivery, everyone was trying to define the Chicago sound. Amidst this confusion, Apoc struggled to develop an artistic identity for himself, drifting from style to style as locals' tastes fluctuated. Frustrated with his city and himself he fled Chicago and spent stints living in Washington state, Colorado, and Michigan, rocking open mics and impressing crowds wherever he went. He returned to Chicago in 2002 to find the city supporting a thriving independent hip-hop scene, and began recording tracks with some old friends. These new tracks piqued the interest of local producers Earmint, Rel, and Anacron, and alongside Apoc, they began work on his first full-length album in early 2003. The result is "Salesmanshipwrecked," an album as rich in imagery as it is in grooves.
Borrowing from funk, jazz, soul, reggae, rock, classical, and even some folk and world music, the production, handled predominantly by Earmint, has a classic feel without sounding stale, often venturing into the innovative without coming off as too artsy. Earmint's work on "Salesmanshipwrecked" has since earned him the opportunity to work with such artists as Diverse, Murs, Longshot, and a number of other local and national hip-hop acts. Perhaps most telling of his capabilities as a producer is the presence of his production on a Diverse 12" alongside two of hip-hop's most esteemed producers, Madlib and Prefuse 73. Rel and Anacron also contribute their signature sounds to the album, the latter being best known for his work with the Living Legends and Netherworlds.
Lyrically the album is equally impressive, as Apoc blends styles that sound both east and west; old and new. His aggressive delivery and clever imagery combine to create a sound that is at once a culmination of the many other Chicago styles, and all his own. Using his gruff, intense voice as a platform, he manages to maintain a thematic link throughout the entire album while tackling such diverse topics as the state of hip-hop("The Fifth Element"), the war in Iraq("Duct Tape & Cover"), and his personal drinking habits("Bottoms Up"). As likely to make a literary reference as to pay homage to other mcs, it is obvious that Apoc not only has a firm grasp on the ideas he's presenting, but also is an experienced head who knows his roots and has a natural disposition for rhyming. Though much of the subject matter may be unfamiliar ground for hip-hop fans, Apoc knows how to identify with his audience, and flows so confidently you couldn't imagine him talking about anything else.
With an impeccable delivery, distinguishing voice, and a camp of talented beat-makers, Apoc has quickly garnered a positive response. His shows at local venues have been drawing big numbers, and his fan base has been increasing exponentially with each performance. As artists such as Kanye West and Twista dominate the charts, Chicago's burgeoning hip-hop community is finally receiving some long overdue recognition. With the re-release of his debut "Salesmanshipwrecked" by indie upstart Lab-Oratory Records, Apoc is poised to emerge from the pack in Chicago and start to gain national attention. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he is able to construct inspiring introspective songs while still having fun. "Salesmanshipwrecked" is an album that has the energy to be played at a party, and the subtle intricacies to remain interesting after repeated listening; for the jeeps and the geeks. Whether or not his city continues to rise with him, one thing is for certain: we will be hearing a lot more from Apoc in the future.
released May 1, 2003
raps - apoc
beats - earmint, rel, anacron
cuts - Big Once
art - earmint
Originally from Chicago, Apoc’s music, art and journalism have brought him all over the world and afforded him the
opportunity to perform alongside many of his heroes and esteemed contemporaries, from Slick Rick to Busdriver to Lupe Fiasco. He’s had music featured on a number of TV shows including MTV’s Jersey Shore and been invited to play a variety of festivals including POP Montreal and NXNE....more