Release Date: 10/26/2010
So, after my initial review of The Left’s mythical “Gas Mask” nearly one year ago, the day has finally arrived! That’s right folks, mark your calenders, today is the day, “Gas Mask is finally available for your listening pleasure. However, the official release of “Gas Mask” includes two new cuts that have quickly become my favorites from the LP that weren’t even inclusive on the advance that I received last December (not to mention, “Scared” which can be found on the “Gas Leaks” EP, was also omitted from the initial listening material). Yet, I’m here to tell everyone, “I told ya’ll”. The praise that we’ve been showering this LP with is real, “Gas Mask” is the album of the year for 2010 and give it a week, you’ll be sharing our same sentiments!
Point blank, period, one thing is for certain in 2010, Apollo Brown has had one helluva’ year. First came Apollo’s LP, “The Reset” (read our review HERE), then Apollo linked up with Atlanta emcee, Boog Brown for the seminal “Brown Study” LP (read review HERE), now, Journalist 103 and DJ Soko accompany him for “Gas Mask”. Is it fair to say that Apollo has had a hand in three of the top 5 albums to drop this year? I’m tellin’ you dude is the truth! I have yet to hear anything from Apollo that’s made me say: “Ahhh, that’s weak”. Dude consistently drops bombs! However, the production that can be found on “Gas Mask” is the Detroit resident’s crowning moment, hands down.
While Apollo can’t do it alone on this LP, Journalist 103, whom I’d never heard prior to receiving the initial advance of this LP, delivers a solid if not spectacular performance throughout the journey of “Gas Mask”. Journ’s lyrics are often littered with reality and street sense and delivered in such a fashion that demands your attention. Poignant and potent, Journalist’s lyrical content and rhyme schemes may not be the most metaphor riddled “16s” that you’ve heard, yet the manner in which he carries himself on the album couldn’t be more suited for the gritty, bare-bones, emotive production dealt by Apollo. Also, you can thank the third of the trio, DJ Soko, for the ill cuts on the album, and while he may not be the most visible member of the trio, dude certainly is a welcome addition that only adds to the grit of the “Gas Mask”.
As I mentioned earlier, Apollo shorted me (although, he did send a final version a little over a month ago, good looks Apollo!) on two cuts from the initially. “Frozen” which features the legendary Kool G Rap, finds Apollo lacing the famed “Impeach The President” sample with some HEAVY horns and a much need dose of thump. While lyrically, Journalist 103 breaks the “downloading frenzy” to a science. The second omission, “Desperation”, which is right up there with the album’s finally, “Get In Where You Fit In” as my favorite cut from the LP, is fueled by hard drums and an ill, almost eerie vocal sample the sounds as if it’s sped up and slowed down, all at the same time.
While the album does feature guest spots from the likes of Marv Won (“Real Detroit”, which you can also find on “The Reset”), Paradime (“Chokehold”), Invincible (who consistently kills shit with “Statistics”), Mu (“Battle Axe”), Guilty Simpson (“Reporting Live”) as well as label-mate Finale on “Caged Birds”, the pairings don’t sound rushed or even the list bit awkward, as each emcee delivers a lyrical performance that meshes so perfectly with Apollo’s production and Journalist 103′s delivery that you’d swear that each of them could respectively step in as the fourth member of the crew, and that’s the truth! Also, omitted purposely from the previous grouping was former Rawkus 50 alumni, Hassaan Mackey, whom also has a collaborative with Apollo in the works with “Daily Bread”, delivers a memorable performance with the thumping, “How We Live”.
So folks, even with all the shine that the “Gas Mask” has received already and hell..I liked it so much I reviewed it twice, cats are still bootlegging this sh*t. C’mon son, please support the artists (and labels, Mello Music Group nailed it 1nce again!) that are doin’ this hip-hop thing the right way and go out and cop the “Gas Mask”. It’s once inna’ blue moon that you’ll hear an album as sound as the effort from Apollo Brown, Journalist 103 and DJ Soko, “Gas Mask” is the model album for the “B-House Stamp Of Approval”. A ground-breaking instant classic was released on October 26th, 2010, celebrate this album for the seminal product that it is, in this day and age, it may be a minute before you hear something like this again. Salute!!