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Issue 1092

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Review

Apex Zero: Reality Provoking Liberation” (Design Chaos)

B&S CD Pic Apex Zero

8

6.1

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UK release date 01.04.2014

This geezer’s got something. I don’t mean an infectious disease either. Although his music is pretty infectious. West London hip hop rapper, emcee and producer Apex Zero is one to watch. His debut solo album “Reality Provoking Liberation” is turning heads and getting him noticed in all the right places, for sure. This is tough stuff.

Politically controversial lyrically, and I’m all for that in this day and age of the powers that be seemingly out to shaft the majority and just look after their wealthy mates. It’s time we kicked and screamed about injustice a bit more than we do. Apex could be well placed to become a musical “voice” for the masses in this country. Maybe he can write a rap about the latest outrage, where a Minister has “overclaimed” maybe around £50,000 in expenses, not been sacked, given a feeble apology and only been told to re-pay £5K of that huge sum. If that were you and me, we’d be locked in a cell by now. Don’t get me started!


The emcee & producer, also one half of the city’s First and Last crew, started as a young teenager in the UK’s garage scene. However, it was when introduced to the music of artists such as Dead Prez, Tupac, Wu Tang, Immortal Technique, Nas, Pharoahe Monch, and fellow English artists Skinnyman and Klashnekoff, that he felt a stronger connection to the ethos of what these artists had to say.With fellow First and Last member OMeza Omniscient, they became regulars on the live circuit, first of all as fans, but by connecting with the artists at these shows they became involved as performers. Still in his late teens, Apex appeared at the renowned End of the Weak and Speaker’s Corner events, where he’d rub shoulders with many of the city’s finest emcees. This allowed him to build with members of Caxton Press and Triple Darkness among others. These performances culminated in his appearance at the World EOW finals in Berlin in 2010.

As an emcee, he learned from the greats. In his production, he has allowed his eclectic listening tastes ranging from John Coltrane, Massive Attack, Rage Against the Machine, Motown, Dub and Roots reggae, to blend with his hip hop influences.While studying the musical greats and in some cases, because of them, he took to the books to learn more on historical figures Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Huey Newton, and studied socialist philosophy, politics and African history. That self education is now at the core of Apex Zero’s philosophy, hip hop his creative extension.Prior to 2010, First and Last released a series of mixtapes which saw them work with producers Nickel (Lowkey & Logic), Craze & Hoax (Emeli Sande, Giggs), perform with Akala, Lowkey, Dubbledge & Kyza and appear on compilations alongside Terra Firma, Kashmere, Foreign Beggars and M9. They formed a new group The Pantheonz of Zenn-la with Seapa, The Aurahkel and Yellow King. Their reputation for hardcore rhymes and shows began to spread.

It’s a trademark delivery style which has stuck with Apex Zero ever since; fierce and powerful rhymes with intelligent wordplay and subject matter. The new album follows last year’s debut solo mixtape “The Pulse of the Awakening”. That features Triple Darkness’ newest member Iron Braydz, Hasan Salaam, Amy True of Caxton Press, Invincible Armour (Zulu Nation / DMC) and OMeza Omniscient.The self described “Neo-hardcore Tru Skool Hip Hop Emcee” has produced a very, very strong first album. It retains the underlying themes of social and political issues over beats which act as a rollercoaster ride to match the emotions. But importantly; it acknowledges not only the need to express the artist’s thoughts, but also the vital need to entertain. It grooves when it needs to.

He is undoubtedly one of the most impressive new artists in the thriving UK hip hop scene today, and his debut album “Reality Provoking Liberation” confirms he deserves his place among the elite with the potential to go far. Comparisons to such artists as Immortal Technique, Akala, Lowkey, Brother Ali, Public Enemy, Triple Darkness, Wu Tang have been made, and those cats just like Apez Zero, have their own unique delivery and style. He’s become a bit of a media darling too, an impressive response for such a relatively new artist. But AZ has engaged folk with his passion and lyricism, and for the intelligent way his views are conveyed. This really is “spittingӉ€Â¦where we get anger, angst, frustration, despair and hope. It’s all there. In some countries today, Apez Zero would probably get banged up or even shot for airing his views like this. Thank goodness our artists can still express themselves without too much restriction, a fact that should be celebrated because who knows; one day it might not be like that any more, if the suits get their way.

Some of this stuff and his pull-no-punches style, reminds me of the barrier breaking The Last Poets; their political rants and dedication to raising African-American consciousness. With their politically charged raps and taut rhythms, The Last Poets helped to lay the groundwork for the emergence of hip-hop. The group arose out of the prison experiences of Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, a U.S. Army paratrooper who chose jail as an alternative to fighting in Vietnam; while incarcerated, he converted to Islam, learned to "spiel" (an early form of rapping), and befriended fellow inmates Omar Ben Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole.

Upon the trio's release from prison, they returned to the impoverished ghettos of Harlem, where they joined the East Wind poetry workshop and began performing their fusion of spiels and musical backing on neighborhood street corners. On May 16, 1969 - Malcolm X's birthday - they officially formed the Last Poets. Check out their album releases. Powerful, thought-provoking stuff and not for the faint hearted......Just like Mr Zero.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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