Boog Brown is a dope emcee. Not a “femcee” but an emcee. So what if she wears makeup and pretty skirts. Those things mean nothing because Boog is thorough on the mic stripping her voice of gender. Her candor, vulnerability, and concentration towards her art make her one of the top emcees of the year. And Apollo Brown is at the forefront of Hip Hop producers because of his ability to build around the rappers he works with. He has a good understanding of his collaborators and knows what works for them beyond just having a banging beat. His beats blend impeccably with Boog’s lyrics and they “go together like the kick and the snare.” She breathes life into his beats and he gives her mini-movies to tell engulfing stories to. And as you listen to their album, The Brown Study, you will hear the irrefutable chemistry that these two share which makes this album damn near flawless.
“I am just the messenger…you can really benefit…”
The album opens with “Marinate,” which is a moody intro decorated in coarse horns as Boog gives us free range to listen to her psyche. Her rousing flow and undeviating approach is the perfect introduction to an album that will submerge itself deep into your core, which is Boog’s intention.
“I want the power—peace, knowledge, wisdom, understanding…”
Boog has humbleness to her that is a rare and refreshing and she displays it immaculately on “Masterplan.” Instead of bragging about what she already has, she humbles herself and reveals what she is searching for over a well-crafted beat that has several elements of Biggie’s classic, “Things Done Changed.” It’s the perfect fusion of boom-bap, cinematic flair, and brash presence that is Apollo’s blueprint.
“I play the game never let the game play me…”
“Play The Game” featuring Kenn Starr takes a deeper introspective turn by addressing the sexism and discrimination that female emcees face far too often. Boog’s vulnerability will take you to a time in your life where you’ve been discriminated against because it is that raw in its sentiment. And Boog could’ve just focused on the female perspective but Kenn Starr also shared the frustration of an artist whose creativity is confined to a box proving that the adversities within Hip Hop are human issues and go beyond gender. Boog concludes with “I’m a human being” which is a simplistic yet powerful statement. And Apollo adds the perfect melancholy sample over a beat that is clear-cut allowing the lyrics to remain at the forefront.
“Aint trying to preach to you, just trying to reach you. With the rules and regulations of defying limitations…”
The lyrics on “Carpe Diem 2” are thorough and reflective but the beat steals the show. Apollo is clearly in love with the “boom-bap” sound and he emulates it extremely well while adding his own twist. The sample massages the drums and seduces the breaks and switch ups bringing forth a great sound that takes us back to those classic days when “boom-bap”dominated Hip Hop.
“So come and get it if you tough enough to fuck with it…”
“U.P.S” is the perfect example of why Apollo and Boog belong together like Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth. And whoever is on the receiving end of Boog’s attack should feel nervous because this is her “Shook Ones” moment. Crisp in her elocution, and brazen with her lyrics, Boog is more than capable of holding her own in a battle with any emcee—male or female. And the production on this track has a gritty yet heightened energy that subconsciously screams out victory.
“Defecate all on the track and you can smell the shit….”
This album is filled with lively beats but the production on “Understanding” is one of my favorites. It’s simple enough with its yielding cymbals and alluring instrumentation to bring the focus to Boog’s lyrics. And its majestic panache closes out the album exactly how they opened it bringing it full circle.
The Brown Study is an amazing project with few blemishes. There are a few weak choruses, some trite moments, and a few instances where the production runs together but they are so miniscule that most won’t catch them. This album works because Boog’s topics are universal and her poetic approach is relatable. And Apollo’s sparse production gives us classic elements from the past with energizing elements from the present. So take the time to get a Hip Hop lesson in how a superb album is made in The Brown Study.