Eastern Philosophy

Artist: ApathyTitle: Eastern PhilosophyRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman

Apathy’s one of those emcees that always seems to be hanging around the fringes of hip-hop – a guest verse here, a mixtape there – but never gets the shine on his own. With Eastern Philosophy (Babygrande)¸ the Connecticut-based emcee (Yeah, they got emcees too.) deservedly gets his chance as a lead rapper and comes through with an album that hits on every front.

Anyone lamenting about the “death” of East Coast rap only has to check out Philosophy for help in the resurrection. With a few uptempo exceptions that disrupt the album’s flow, dark beats and hard drums are balanced with head-nodding basslines, recalling the classic boom-bap production of the Beatminerz and their peers.

But the clear headliner is the emcee himself, as a strong voice and complex, confident flow supplement clever lyrics that repeatedly make you press rewind on your Walkman (Humor me). On the Biggie-sampling “1,000 Grams,” he rhymes about being “the type that’ll keep my Nikes extra white/Like seeing goth girls in fluorescent light.” Throughout the album, the founding member of the Demigodz crew is prone to squeeze as many words as possible in a bar. But the result, unlike so many underground emcees who come off as walking dictionaries and rarely stay engaging, is a rapper who has an expert command on the English language and the way words connect with each other. With precious few missteps (in the beat department only), Apathy connects with a fantastic debut that should raise his profile in the game immensely.