Who even likes Anchovies?

Apollo Brown & Planet Asia
You may be surprised when I say that this is one of the best rap albums to be released this year.
— Cole Parris

Anchovies are not the most appealing creatures in the world upon first glance. They have a very strong taste and an extremely potent smell to say the least. Despite all of these qualities, they are thoroughly enjoyed by some people. This description could very well fit the collaboration hip-hop album Anchovies by rapper Planet Asia and produced by Apollo Brown. The album artwork features an anchovy skeleton with a visible odor emanating from it. While it’s not the most inviting image. Once you listen to the album, though, you realize that this is by design. The project carries a vintage, dirty sound with samples layered by vinyl crackles and grungy vocals. In the album, Asia himself warns the listener, “This sh*t ain’t for everybody.” That being said, you may be surprised when I say that this is one of the best rap albums to be released this year.

Planet Asia & Apollo Brown

“The Smell” provides a sample of what the rest of the album is like with a short and smooth instrumental that sounds as though it’s playing from a vinyl record covered in dust. From that point, it jumps right into the outstanding track, “Panties in a Jumble.” Asia effortlessly lays some serious rhymes over Apollo’s soulful sampled beat. The rapper puffs out his chest and struts his stuff over the instrumental, switching flows with ease throughout the track. The album then continues into another standout, “Diamonds,” which continues the pattern started by the previous track. Brown provides another incredible soul sample for Asia to continue showcasing his excellent lyricism. The track is the very essence of what Asia refers to as “elegant gangster” music. Brown’s instrumentals and Asia’s word choice paint a picture of a suited man smoking a cigar and nodding along to the song while admiring his gems.

The album contains three features: Guilty Simpson, fellow Durag Dynasty member Tristate and Willie the Kid, who takes part in the astounding “Dalai Lama Slang.” Asia and Willie attack Brown’s piano-laced instrumental with unfiltered braggadocio. Their two verses display impressive rhyme schemes that also feature alliteration throughout, demonstrating masterful skill and poise. In fact, the entire album exhibits first-rate quality from both the beatsmith and the rapper.

Asia and Apollo’s collaborative album aimed to create an old-school sound that felt as if your grandfather was playing you a dusty vinyl from his basement. They effectively did this and then some. What is most impressive is that among all of the dirty and unfiltered sounds in the album, both Apollo and Asia are very polished in their execution. Asia’s rhyme schemes and overall lyricism is nothing short of excellent. The same can be said about Apollo’s sample selection and how he brilliantly flipped them to create the instrumentals on this album. This project may fly under the radar for most casual rap listeners, but old school hip-hop lovers will really appreciate it. Anchovies is not meant to get air time on popular radio stations. This album is strictly for the old heads. Regardless, you should be able to admire the superior quality no matter who you are.