Apathy has had a long, grueling ten-year career, one that is barely beginning to pay off for the artist. With no affiliation to any big name artists, Ap pretty much had to rely on his own talent to make a name for himself in the underground, unlike many of today’s rappers whom simply get by because of who they know. But the cream always rises to the top, and true talent will always eventually get noticed, and that is exactly what happened in Apathy’s case. He landed a record deal with Atlantic Records under Mike Caren, a longtime industry A&R looking for the next Eminem (whom later would settle with Asher Roth). The problem was, Atlantic never prioritized Apathy, putting artists like T.I. before him, as betting on a white emcee was always a risk. Eventually Apathy left the label, but again, his talent preceded him, taken under the wing of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, as Ap became a loose-knit member of the Fort Minor collective. Apathy was eventually able to release his long awaited debut, Eastern Philosophy, a solid, top to bottom release which many revere as an indie classic. He’s released a few mixtape albums and compilations since then, but Wanna Snuggle? is his official sophomore album release.
As a student of the toolies and Timberlands era of hip-hop, Apathy’s sound resonates with the rawness of 1990’s east coast hip-hop, as proven on his debut. Wanna Snuggle? continues this trend, going right for it as the album opens with “Hell’s Angel”, a short introductory over Illmatic-esque drums, leading right into “Money Orientated”, where he weighs in on the economy. This trend continues on “Gov’t Cheese” and “On and Off The Mic”, as Ap uses his commanding voice, sharp delivery, and witty lyrics to make freestyle rhymes relevant again.
While this style is what he built his career upon, Apathy has learned from history that it’s impossible to craft an LP of any relevance sticky to this script alone. Much of this LP is spent in conceptual form, as Ap covers a wide variety of topics, delving heavily into male/female relationships. “True Love” (featuring Phonte of Little Brother) is easily one of the album’s best tracks, as the two wax poetically about the perfect girl over a classically freaked soul sample. Leading into “Mind Ya Business”, with Fu-Schnickens frontman Chip Fu, who lends a rasta-flavored hook to the dancehall-tuned track, as Apathy details his frustration with female paranoia. “Guys and Girls” has a bit of a doo-wop flavor to it, as Blue Raspberry matches up with Ap once more, as does the more up-tempo “Run Away”, which packs a sort of sock-hop beat reminiscent of Will Smith’s “Switch”, for better or for worse.
This employment of heavily retro samples does begin to hinder the album in places from time to time. The aforementioned “Run Away” is still made with heart, but is a strange departure from the rugged sound the album begins with. Later on “Candy”, we find Apathy and Dose trading clever metaphor-filled verses comparing candy to women, however the old-timey track is the song’s weakest element. The same can be said for “This Is The Formula”, an appreciated lyrical collaboration with J-Live, but one that unfortunately suffers from another blasé oldie sample that could have been used better. One song of this set that doesn’t falter however is “No Sad Tomorrow”, built around a perfectly chopped *familiar* sixties rock sample. While it’s nice to see Apathy trying on different styles of production for size, he will always sound most at home over that ol’ boom bap.
But at 22 tracks deep, Wanna Snuggle? can be a heavy plate to digest, but also leaves plenty of room for error, making these minor gripes inconsequential to the package as a whole. There are plenty of brilliant moments all over this LP, such as the Mike Shinoda produced Cypress Hill tribute track, “Shoot First”, where B-Real sounds as if he was rapping on his first album, and Celph Titled naturally slides into the groove. “What Goes Up” is an incredibly vivid tale that doesn’t need a hook, much less a drum track, as Ap keeps the listener hanging off every word of this two-minute short story. “Victim”, which closes the album, also documents Ap’s knack for storytelling, as Fort Minor collaborator Holly Brooke delivers an icy hook to this visceral character study.
While the production of Chum The Skrilla Guerilla (whom produced most of his last album, Eastern Philosophy) is absent, it’s not entirely noticeable until late in the album, when Ap begins experimenting with retro samples, which are among Wanna Snuggle’s weaker moments. Nevertheless, despite being a long LP, if this were graded by a school teacher, Ap would easily score top honors, as the quality control throughout the album remains consistent, with plenty of glowing moments to overshadow any missteps. – DJ Pizzo
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