Despite being a new artist, Camden native and South Jersey representative, Apollo the Great, already has something to brag about. At 22 years old, Apollo has already gotten major co-signs from the likes of respected MCs and lyricists like Sean Price, Freeway, and Joell Ortiz.
With the recent re-release of his highly touted project, Apollo 21, Apollo the Great has made every effort to make sure he’s heard by those that may have passed him by the first time around.
AllHipHop.com spoke to Apollo and was more than happy to welcome the well-deserving lyricist to our elite class of Breeding Ground artists. Apollo spoke to us about his first experiences within Hip-Hop, the originality that is lacking within the industry today, what sets him apart, and much more. Check out our exclusive interview with Apollo the Great below:
AllHipHop.com: So for those that might not be familiar with you, tell me a little bit about where you’re from and how you got the name Apollo the Great.
Apollo the Great: Well, I’m from Camden, New Jersey. That’s the southside of New Jersey, and the eastside of that city; shout out to everybody in Camden. Basically, I got the name from the Roman god Apollo who was the god of music, so I took that name to stand for myself, my music, and what I plan on doing with my career.
AllHipHop.com: When did you first fall in love with Hip-Hop?
Apollo the Great: Early on, like the ’90s when I grew up around older cousins that were listening to all of the classics, so I really fell in love with the Golden Era of Hip-Hop, and it really all started from there.
AllHipHop.com: Do you remember what your first Hip-Hop purchase was?
Apollo the Great: The first one I purchased with my own money was The Blueprint.
AllHipHop.com: What would you say is your favorite album of all time?
Apollo the Great: It has to be a toss-up between Nas’ Illmatic and It Was Written. I’m back and forth between which one is my favorite.
AllHipHop.com: Since you just name-dropped Nas and Jay-Z in the past 30 seconds, I have to ask who you think is the greatest rapper alive?
Apollo the Great: The greatest rapper is Jay-Z. Nas is the best MC though.
AllHipHop.com: Please elaborate on that [laughs].
Apollo the Great: I just feel like throughout his career Nas always stayed true to himself, and to me, that’s really important when you’re an MC. And with Jay-Z, he’s always just been perfect walking that line and crossing over to be commercially successful.
AllHipHop.com: Of course, you are your own man and artist, but let me ask, 10 or 20 years from now, who would you rather be compared to Nas or Jay?
Apollo the Great: That’s tough, ‘cause like you said I’m my own artist, but if I could, I would love to blend both of those in together – if I could figure out a way to do that. I would have to say, though, I would want my legacy to rather stand up to someone like Nas’ legacy.
AllHipHop.com: You originally released Apollo 21 last year, and now you recently re-released it as a “deluxe edition,” with a number of new tracks and features. What was the reasoning behind putting the project out again, as opposed to starting from scratch?
Apollo the Great: Well, first, I landed a distribution deal, and I felt that Apollo 21 was full of a lot of good and original material, and I wanted to get it out to the people again, ‘cause I wasn’t sure who got to hear it the first time. It was a good way to get people to catch up and hear about where I was coming from.
AllHipHop.com: It’s pretty common nowadays for new artists to get that one big-name feature on their single or project to get that added attention from the community of listeners. You, on the other hand, got Freeway, Sean Price, and Joell Ortiz all on your first major release. Aside from having them on the project with you, how does it feel to know that these guys weren’t just doing a favor, but were all truly co-signing you and your music?
Apollo the Great: It means a lot, man, and I’m humbled by the fact that artists of that stature wanted to work with me. Ever since I met Sean Price, that’s like the big homie, man. He looks out for me anytime I’m in the city, and I appreciate because it helps navigate me as a young artist for my career.
AllHipHop.com: Let me ask you about another emerging artist: Jon Connor. What happens when the two of you get into a studio together?
Apollo the Great: Jon Connor is a true lyricist, too, man. Shout out to Jon; he definitely blessed me with a crazy verse, and he’s cut from the same cloth I am so you know. He’s a talented MC, and when we get together we’re just going to make good music, and that goes for him or whoever else I decide to collaborate with.
AllHipHop.com: Well, you and Jon certainly complement each other lyrically on “Above Average.” Has there been any talk of you two doing an entire project together?
Apollo the Great: Nah, not as of yet, but it’s definitely a possibility. I’m open to that.
AllHipHop.com: I noticed that two guys handled a majority of the production on Apollo 21: YFame and The Incredible Stro…
Apollo the Great: Shout out to YFame. I been working with him since I put out my first mixtape, and we always had a real good chemistry; Stro as well. He’s a dude from the South Jersey area, and those are just two guys that I normally work with.
AllHipHop.com: Before Apollo 21 was created, what was the sound that you guys we’re going for when you first began working on it?
Apollo the Great: When I started working on it I didn’t have a title for it, and I was just really making music. On a lot of my other mixtapes, I’m using a lot of samples, and that’s been my main thing, ‘cause I love that sound. But on this one, we just decided to try and create every song from the beginning. I think we used like two samples on the whole project, but everything else was all-original music from the ground up, so we could give the people something different.
AllHipHop.com: For the listeners that have what I call “musical A.D.D.,” what would you say are two of the best songs that act as a total embodiment of you as an artist and rapper?
Apollo the Great: [Laughs] That’s tough, man; there’s like 21 songs on there. I would say you have to listen to the last record, “Scattered Thoughts”, just to get a glimpse of where my mind frame is. If the ladies are looking for something on the record, it’s gotta be “Thug In Your Life”, just to address how I handle things with the females. One more joint on there would probably be the remix of “Call It Quits”.
Check out the remainder of Apollo the Great’s interview below:
Follow Apollo the Great on Twitter: (@Apollo_TheGreat)