Navigating the “Cost of Living” with Philmore Greene and Apollo Brown
In the gritty terrain of the urban jungle, rapper Philmore Greene and producer Apollo Brown join forces to explore the profound question that resonates through the corridors of modern city life: What is the cost of living in a world that seems inherently flawed? This question becomes the thematic anchor for their collaborative album aptly titled “Cost of Living,” a vivid sonic exploration of the consequences, struggles, and survival in a world that often seems indifferent. Today the cost of living affects all of us, whether it’s trying to find affordable housing for the family, or a way to survive in the inner city, lives are at stake.
From the onset, the album delves into the stark realities of inner-city existence. The duo lays bare the existential challenges that have ensnared generations, giving voice to the pervasive systemic traps that have haunted black and brown communities for decades. The album becomes a poignant soundtrack to the struggles of those who navigate a world defined by limited opportunities, deferred dreams, and the perpetual cycle of life and death. The everyday struggle known all to well to the less privileged.
“Cost of Living” is not an album that shies away from authenticity. It’s a collection of songs that bear the scars of experience—a contemplative fire fueled by the veritable films of Chicago’s west side. This part of the city serves as both a muse and a haunting memory for Philmore Greene, where he witnessed the harsh realities of life, from his first encounter with death in his early teens to the loss of his brother to street violence. It’s a place that nurtured his artistry—a refuge found in pen, pad, and microphone.
The album’s themes resonate with the struggles of endemic poverty, opportunities withheld, and dreams deferred. It lays bare the choices one faces in a world where a roll of the dice can lead to death, imprisonment, or a pathway out. The scratched vocals of Common on the track “Steep Life” echo the aspirations of many striving to escape their circumstances.
Apollo Brown, the maestro behind the boards, crafts a cinematic soundscape, blending tense, moody strings with commanding drums. His production style draws parallels to hip-hop legends like Pete Rock, J Dilla, and DJ Premier, showcasing a fidelity to the grime and grit of rap’s second Golden Age. Philmore Greene’s lyricism finds a perfect canvas in Apollo Brown’s sumptuous beats. Hailed for his “confident, luxuriant boom-bap,” Greene transcends mere storytelling, infusing his verses with complex emotions, empathetic street narratives, and heart-wrenching pathos. His words paint vivid pictures of the dice games, the unrelenting struggles, and the harsh realities of the streets. The dynamic duo sets the bar high with this milestone Detroit / Chicago collaboration.
Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene "Cost of Living" via Mello Music Group | Album on Bandcamp
Released November 15, 2022, Vocals by Philmore Greene, Produced by Apollo Brown, Mixed by Magnetic @ The Disc, Mastered by Joe Hutchinson, Cover art by Cocu Liu, Campaign Photography by Jenny Risher, Graphic Design by Austin Hart, Executive Produced by Erik Stephens & Michael Tolle, Sounds Beautiful Like The Truth Mello Music Group, 2022.
The lead single, “Paradise,” featuring Evidence, unfolds Greene’s gift for classic rap storytelling. He draws stark parallels between Chicago and Pakistan, highlighting the dichotomy of a world where drug trafficking can lead to 40 years in prison, while murderers walk free in a fraction of that time. A pivotal moment in the album is “This is Me,” where Greene lays bare his personal struggles and psychological turmoil. The haunting narrative takes us through his battles with trauma, witnessed murders, and the ever-present fear of being watched and followed. Inner city PTSD is something that is real for many black and brown men in America.
“The cost of living may be high, but Greene and Brown allow you to understand that it is not insurmountable.” Despite the losses and challenges, they offer a glimpse of hope—a belief in something deeper and the possibility of something better. This is soul music in its truest form, a physical place where heart, philosophy, and spirit converge. “Cost of Living” is not just an album; it’s a timeless work that addresses enduring issues, reminding us that these challenges were here before us and will persist long after.
In the symphony of life, Philmore Greene and Apollo Brown invite us to listen, reflect, and understand that, despite the cost, hope remains alive. Be intentional, your personal power to navigate the cost and achieve the dream is real!