Ugly Heroes is a recently spawned group consisting of rappers Verbal Kent and Red Pill and producer Apollo Brown. Verbal Kent has garnered a little bit of a following over the years, but I would assume that most of the people who have peeped this album have done so because it was produced by Apollo Brown. That’s why I checked it out, anyway. This here is their debut, Ugly Heroes. Let’s get into it.
Verbal Kent is an MC that I’m somewhat familiar with. I have yet to listen to most of his albums, but I’ve heard him around enough to get a decent picture of the type of rapper he is. That picture is that he’s a pretty good rapper, a capable writer with a decent enough flow, but that’s he’s not a particularly special rapper. He’s alright at rapping, but he doesn’t stand out among the plethora of other MCs who sound just like him. That’s basically what I got out of his rapping on this album, too. It was good, but not very attention-grabbing. Red Pill, on the other hand, a rapper that, to my knowledge, I’m not at all familiar with, is actually quite good. I would call him a slightly above average rapper. He doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but his technical skills are fairly well rounded. The main thing that I like about him is that his lyrics are relatable. Verbal Kent goes for that approach, too, but Red Pill is better at it. He’s no master of lyricism, but he’s good at conveying emotion and struggle and he puts his heart into his lyrics. On a lyrical level, that’s what this album is mostly about. It’s about struggling to survive, taking life one step at a time, and trying to stay on a clean path. Neither of these rappers are great, but they have that relatability factor, which makes their conjoined performance on this album worth hearing.
As much as I like Verbal Kent and Red Pill for their relatable lyrics, Apollo Brown is the obvious reason to peep this album. Unfortunately, this album isn’t a continuation of the sound that he went for on Clouds, which is my personal favorite work of production in his discography. These beats are much more in line with his 9th Wonder impersonation beats. That being said, these are some of his best beats in that style. They may sound kind of like 9th Wonder’s beats, but Apollo Brown is easily one of the best of the slew of 9th Wonder influenced producers that have been popping up since 2003, so that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These beats are very good due to Brown’s excellent selection of lovely soul samples. If you like soulful production, this album is right up your alley.
My favorite song on the album and the most memorable one to me is “Desperate.” That song does a great job of setting the tone of the album and it’s a great song, period. None of the rest of the songs are quite as good. If they were, I would be giving this album a higher rating and it would be one of my favorite hip hop releases of the year thus far. Fortunately, though, every song is good. Due to it’s consistency and reasonable length, it’s an easy album to listen to in one sitting. It’s not the type of album that’s going to blow anyone’s mind with its originality, but if you’re like me in that you’re the type to bump 9th Wonder’s 2000s projects, such as Cloud 9: The 3 Day High, then you’re bound to like it. It doesn’t have any major flaws, so if you’re into that type of sound, it’s a safe bet. The only flaw I can pick out, other than the lack of originality across the board (which doesn’t particularly bother me), is that a lot of the songs sound a little bit too similar to each other. Other than that, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a solid collection of cohesive songs and I would definitely recommend it to all fans of Apollo Brown and 9th Wonder.
The thoughts of this article resonates the authors thoughts, not a general consensus of the website (unless otherwise stated).