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Cost of Living

by Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene

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1.
Consequences 01:16
2.
So poetic when these words embedded —Philly pathetic, these frail niggas couldn’t amount to my measurements I measure it, what it takes to be todays king And most of these rappers only account for where a Peasant is Who wanna bet?? I bet the kids, My only approach is being much better— than the best there is I followed heart & the money slid, passion These niggas acting every rapper did a hunnit bids This ain’t Rap this is audio warfare Dianetcal teachings with the Disciples of lord there Everybody is reeking w/ the sins we could all bare Just pray & hope you drop the dead weight like a Pallbearer Philly, my pen stray daily the modern day Alex Haley I’m rooted to the page until the land of myth take me You can’t fool, swindle or sway me, you crazy? I’m feeling like the best to do it lately.. it’s Philmore ➖➖➖➖➖➖ My name is Philmore Greene My name is Philmore Greene My name is Philmore Greene I’m from the west side of Chicago… Nice to meet you ➖➖➖➖➖➖ You never heard it this marvelous—Everything I kick they marvel it So When I say I’m the best I’m really stating the obvious Highly Entreated live shows gracing the audience Soon as the beat drop my shit changing the ambience Philly, in Rare Phorm I’m the man dammit Gargantuas, you & I is like peanuts to the Grand Canyon I’m all about diversifying & expansion Asparagus w/ Béhchamel sauce over the Salmon Jammin’— I’m the real you ni%as off brand My dexterity is Kobe at the line with his off hand I draw sculptures with the off hand —opposite Watch for the loved ones that hate on your accomplishments I shoot it sharper than Ruven a-fan-ador Life is Delicate is the wrong improvement could damage yours Where I’m from you know they’ll shoot it & scramble yours better locks ya windows & jam ya doors Philly comin’.. ➖➖➖➖➖➖ My name is Philmore Greene My name is Philmore Greene My name is Philmore Greene I’m from the west side of Chicago… Nice to meet you
3.
Keep Goin' 03:26
Take the bitter wit the sweet & roll wit the punches When life is on y heels you better fight back—swing hard & throw em in bunches The city cold like summer school lunches Cold cuts & frozed fruit punches, westside to the hunnits Dope runners, & villains is studying Deuteronomy tRNA get to the promise land, willing to do it honestly Reporting live from the land of dishonesty Everybody tryna hit a lick to where the dollas be My brother dub was down he missed a lot He Was locked for them 2 terms he ain’t witness Barrock, it’s hot That nigga Boog been in & 20 & under forty He ain’t witness a the 8th grade or having shorties reality speaks the earth shall inherit the meek I pray my daughter a be better than me Pick up a trade, study hard, and get ya degrees Nah, be like Daddy & follow ya dreams & keep going (Keep Goin) ➖➖➖➖ You know what life bring, trials and tribulations just put ya head down Keep Goin Life come with the worries, pains problems You gotta put ya chin up & keep goin It’s all love though, so what why hate for?? You can tap on my shoulder keep goin We seen a lot & been through some of worst times That sun gon shine, let’s keep goin ➖➖➖➖ It took 600 years to make the devil 8 minutes to kill a man An hour for me to write to travel a distant land To make it in the ghetto you better get you a vision plan 20/20 another murder captured on instagram Live, uploaded, like share & subscribe Imagine if his Mother see it nightmare to her eyes This is Chi, stay inside if you scared of the vibes Nobody’s real —we living in the scariest times Everything is worked for —& what’s given aint worth having A single mother to feed her boy she worked Magic Son of a Savage, his Pops Pontiac maxing Madness, doin hits for them — Grants & Jacksons I view it all for whatever it’s worth I take thoughts, plants seeds, now they spreading the dirt Fruition, from the passion & grind it keep growing So why the fuck I stop I keep goin (Philmore) ➖➖➖➖ You know what life bring, trials and tribulations just put ya head down Keep Goin Life come with the worries, pains problems You gotta put ya chin up & keep goin It’s all love though, so what why hate for?? You can tap on my shoulder keep goin We seen a lot & been through some of worst times That sun gon shine, let’s keep goin
4.
Good morning, welcome to the Ave it’s no a better place These are the days of our lives wishing for better days Dice games is goin is heavyweight bet they safe All my niggas grinding in the same clothes from yesterday Crimes pays, stuck in a maze until I levitate Let me hate, I don’t give a fuck I’m getting better pay yellow page, government ways, smoke & meditate They hit my nigga Mel wit 38 he got a better date From robbery to larceny, our parents did it probably The apple fell right under the tree we get it honestly Street pharmacies, hookers hooking where the commas be Anomalies, oddities, question marks where the fathers be We on the move like we never had a pot to pee I look up to the sky & see the black clouds follow me It gotta be blurring the vision for every God to see I’m Stuck to the Ave like the lines when you cross the street ➖➖➖➖ We live here die here do the dash and reproduce Instead of teaching stocks, they was teaching us how to squeeze and shoot Big in 9-2 gotta hustle cuz we need the loot Need the juice? Get bananas homie squeeze the fruit Do or Die life in the Chi it’s either me or you, Set a goal marbles in the hole I gotta see through Gotta get yo food bc them babies they needed you city gon crazy babies squeezing outta Vehicles I’m from a place where they let them 4’s Tecs blow Yo kneck glow, click clack off ya neck slow Petco, watch where the snakes and them rats go Life in the field is not a game no Techmo Ya show is over now it’s time for the Next host Shorties play the camera just to merch & Flex toast The next goat, cold winters, summer the sweat soak The life is stronger than drugs even harder to let go (live fast)
5.
Immaculate 03:28
You barely scratching the surface, I’m rappin wit purpose — immaculate, malpractices Ya whole faction be In the back of them hirstes A master w/ verses, Philly be the Abbott of the masterclass Smash & Grab, Sat through the math & then I pack the churches Apollo Brown keep the masses workin’ By the time you hear this record I’ll be Philly the mathematics version Track is Surging, numbers racing to the sky— raised in the Chi Where killer cop, scammers & all the bastards Lurking The crack era they were snatching purses, Heart of over mind, mind over matter—No matter my cyke working A Viking, I catch lightening imma righteous person I had a vision giving vision to a sightless person When I’m live I ignite the curtains I’m better, extraterrestrial celestial I shatter earthlings Merchant, reverse spells to shatter the curses Any word against my words I’m wording em worthless (Merch it) ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ The most poetic & Dialectically gifted Quotables high in ethics no hypothetical mentions Black man,— you either Bob Johnson or you Jimmy Henchman W/ calisthenics escaping some high confederate lenchmen Mr. Greene, my music is made for prison & Princeton & in between, you either been through it or been a witness My vision seen, every syllable that i mentione mean Wu been told me to get creame, Cash rules Blaze something, suede runners, puffin, it’s nothing I go and take over the stage like Dave Ruffin A man on a mission- maze running my page different My city used to them jail calls & graves visits The ghetto life i was raised In it, made it in Granny was so stuck in her ways so she stayed in it Amazing isn’t it, stayed in the kitchen getting it Let me cook this meal you do the dishes, and listen
6.
Time Goes 03:24
Back when entertaining was shared at the same time We all listened to the same tune, same rhymes Same drop of a dime, we shared memories On sight was precious, nowadays it seems kinda hectic I guess Over the past 100 yrs we get a shift on this planet When new times come the old vanish granny used to feed the whole crib man we never went Famished Go pick out a switch if you was mannish From TV Guides to Yellow Pages, I seen Hella phases Today’s life insurance is phone cases Shorties in pampers working an iPad the basics And everybody wanna shot in the face for a facelift If you could mix it it would seem so odd picture an IG model in Phylicia Rashad Just imagine Cardi B “Jet Beauty of the Week” Respectfully, I bet the time is changing as we speak (Come on..) ➖➖➖➖➖➖ Where did the time go? I gotta keep up I’m stuck in time zone Where did the time go? It’s like the whole World stuck in these iPhones Maaan what happened to the time? It’s like I’m growing each & every line Where did the time go? You gotta live to get old.. time goes ➖➖➖➖➖➖ My aunt T used to slam on the Burn outs w/ old bricks phones Where you from, get a code—you can go pick zones 7-7-3, the organic times was heavenly It’s like the whole world forgetting its pedigree We went from boom boxes dancing to hip hop, To who got they Aux dancing for Tik Tok My granny used to makes us go back & fight more Like if you lose don’t come back through my doors I’m just reflecting on the basics of life Dinner table w/ the fam we all take a device Where’s the television sitcoms w/ morals at the ending Now it’s scripted realities for Attention Pardon Philly as I age myself I’m stuck in my ways amazed by the phase myself Listen, I ain’t ashamed to notice the shift & grow You gotta live to get old ➖➖➖➖➖➖ Where did the time go? I gotta keep up I’m stuck in time zone Where did the time go? It’s like the whole World stuck in these iPhones Maaan what happened to the time? It’s like I’m growing each & every line Where did the time go? You gotta live to get old.. time goes
7.
The score for the night is pure silence Off key church bells, drug deals and sirens The city whistles everytime the wind blows Nymphos, secure deals behind tinted windows Sex advance for the cash in hand, The wrong worlds collide ChiTown is Pakistan It’s no return when the casket slam A nigga gon dress you up like Dapper Dan When the city sleep run for cover The night a take ya mother, stray ya sister & leave a bastard brother The stick swinging like piñata’s for the Candy For the bread, do you like the robbers did to Camby, Family The preachers say the Church belong to God Backsliding like mechanics under cars for the Worship Jars A thief in the night would stay at large, never sleep but this is only the odds, Paradise Hunger ➖➖➖➖➖ Cuz when the nighttime cover the city you better search for a safe place you could stay just find a way Cuz when the nighttime cover the city you better take yo black ass somewhere safe ➖➖➖➖➖ What’s to the inner city lifestyle? The days are a circus & every night wild Bright child stuck in the ghetto let’s save em now The Bible says the kids would be SMARTER but weaker social media turned the babies from a guider to seekers Subsidized housing, FEMA, The stress levels is high as an underpaid teacher He started early so he’s used to when that Prison hit em Instead of pistol he lost his life to recidivism My man’s got 40yrs for Heron, but Jason did 3 for a body Why you wanna play with that block for buy a truck to transport some Goods & Commodities CDL’s the government wanna see me fail, Culturally biased learning the schools ain’t teach me well Are you religious or you superstitious, The Devil I’m Outwitting, tryna dodge a bullet or a life sentence, paradise
8.
Step in the concrete jungle, everything is broke ya passion be the healer I you getting bread the vulture know & they glad to be ya killer Dirty mattresses, imagine if ya faculty it was a that’s hit up The women a set you up and get the bag for they concealer, Put the package on her liver greyhound packages delivered It is hazardous, in the middle of the July shit you could shiver Quiver, where I’m from it ain’t built for the weak & bitter If Philly ain’t best then you gon Have to Reconsider For realer, the Steep life where niggas don’t sleep & eat right If niggas at yo head you better sleep w/ a peace pipe To get the babies fed he a risk getting 3 strikes Need life, at least the pen taught to read, write Time in need see what ya knees like Pray to the east alhumdillah, now you starting to see light Uhh, child of the ghetto workin hard to be bright LeBron & King Von is who he strive to be like! Steep life ➖➖➖➖➖➖ The only peace we ever get is after rest in Let’s create leaders & moguls, no more cellmates we need more best men Holy matrimony better get ya rachet homie I rep the fucking K as if I got it tatted on me It showed me everything from a birth to a murder scene The shells was popping outta the chamber I heard em cling So close, if you black around here you serve a fiend For no reason 12 a search jeans we used to dirty the cops rushing—Guns bussin, Baby mamma’s phone fussin Want the beef, home of Cochise, ni%a we on something Box Chevy bumpin, commissary, jail calls comin’ Any moment we down to fall, like we log running Niggas fake as Paul Bunyan, bitches fake as Snow White Hell yeah shorty gon ball, he ain’t grow right Packed crib, no lights—No beans, no rice Link cards, mo mice Watch for the po-lice, Steep life
9.
This that old school dusties, 2 Step, du wopping up on a Saturday Glad to pay- Smooth as note from Donny from Donny Hathaway I like ya style & I’m already at ya pace No cap, shorty like the ending of when you graduate Let it fly put ya deuces to the sky I see why ya ex’s and all ya other men gravitate I ride the wave I think I’m in love Nachos milk duds reclined that a matinee We got 3K on replay Goin strong cutting all night long like a DJ But in case a hater fiend for the smoke no freebase My shorty got the Burner Armed Strong, BJ ..I buss and give it back like a relay You got be smart & never lack hard these days Shit I just wanna vibe out with ya Shorty I just wanna ride out wit ya ➖➖➖➖ Blocks, I just wanna hit some wit you Money, the big knots I was get some wit you Escrow, shorty hop in the ride, let’s roll come on ➖➖➖➖ Let’s get it goin, shorty we can just hit blocks & play the road The tank full, seeing the city see what it shows The scenic route, the meanest out that’s how I go through Philly smoother than Don Juan Prom photos(4) Put ya hand out the window shorty, feel the force Philly go and switch flows if the illest sorts I way nicer than ya lame squads I do this rap shit w/ one leg up like James Todd Back to the lecture Philly is next up Way better, fresher than ya Grandma’s dresser Grippin on wood & we sitting on leather I got my window cracked no matter the weather Take a break from ya girlfriends Hop in the whip & wave to the sky like the Errol Flynn Shit I just wanna vibe out with ya Shorty I just wanna ride out wit ya let’s roll, come on
10.
This Is Me 03:24
What a man I’ve become, but let me take it back to where it begun Chicago the west side you better brandish a gun The devils lurking try to vanish & run, protect my sanity A penny for my thought had to manage my funds I saw death early right there the damage was done One to the face the other shots damaged his lungs A mind on the run, at that very moment I began that Mentally young Philly Managed a ton I saw therapist & shrinks way before it was hustle Fighting a battle Inside my mind what a struggle Paranoid, how can live with condition I’m being watched & followed, the killer on pay a visit 14 I wondered I’ll see 25 & when I turned 25 I woke & cried Bittersweet, I’m watching over my shoulders religiously Fighting demons in the hood is no way for a kid to be, but this is me ➖➖➖➖➖ I heard it all from being called crazy mind in the fog it’s all hazy, I unpack the ill thoughts hoping they all pay me To escape, I used to sit henny ball daily 16 with the bottle in hand like a baby Now I’m much older the fight hella stressful Where I’m from ni%a even when you sneeze they don’t bless you I’m more recluse now never leaving home I need it for a zone nowadays to each it is own My man’s preaching from the speakerphone He squeezed the chrome, 90yrs in Indiana hope he see it home Too many losses not enough gains, struggles & pains The sound of my daughter’s help he ease the brain You can smell or see the pain, it’s like speaking another language when asking me to explain I’m still in the game plenty clock to go I’m winning for sho, I’m much better, but this is Me
11.
Free 03:24
Without taking the shortcut, tell me Whats the quickest way to freedom? This life is full of messages only you could read em In the hood you gotta foresee em to oversee em In church my granny got her daily bread like per diem (4) Drop jewels on youngins’ Philly gotta feed em Cuz they dropped tools on youngins & teach em how to squeeze em I never hang I don’t speak that much But I do drop records with the hopes that I could reach em (8) ..This is Langston Hughes mixes w/ Amiri Baraka You can’t tell my soul is rich by the spirit & posture I Mirror ya father, young black man up in the ghetto With the odds of veering out of a choppa, (12) Wit no chute, just float through Teach the babies how to grow fruit, Collard Greens more produce They say you are who you bc of what you go through What you gon do when the devil put his demons on you ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ They always gon tell you that it’s impossible (I never gave up) They always gon tell you, you don’t belong here (Don’t let ‘em change us) They always gon do it cuz of ya skin color (We gotta shape up) Cuz if you coming from a place I’m from we screaming (PLEASE SAVE US) ➖➖➖ I teach my daughter how to count through dominos Stack by 5’s to win, I’m from a place in the chi w/ the livest men Ghetto kings in Heaven or reside in the pen Life of sin, but deep inside they were some righteous men (4) I Conceive life when I swipe with the pen, flawless Through me they can breathe & receive life again Toss yoself into that jungle & see what it teach you, Draining the brain is step one as to how they breed you (8) Step 2 is strip a resource for you to choose Then keep taking and subtracting see that how you lose Step 3 is shove the drugs in communities But you gotta be resourceful that’s how you eat (12) I know the contrary, get a job or go to school But what’s meant for us could never be meant for you I’m just here to give a voice to the voiceless God judge man by his heart & not his choices ➖➖➖➖➖ They always gon tell you that it’s impossible (I never gave up) They always gon tell you, you don’t belong here (Don’t let ‘em change us) They always gon do it cuz of ya skin color (We gotta shape up) Cuz if you coming from a place I’m from we screaming 3 Words (PLEASE SAVE US)
12.
Just Imagine 03:25
His momma stood in his room staring in space, empty sniffing his close From here on, a memory is just as good as it goes He was close, good w/ the fam but never was he good w/ his foes Crib in the Burbs life up in the hood what he chose Momma’s educated, black woman she college graduated Pops died out in the streets his name validated By the stories he was fascinated A kid w/ money is now a man now there goes your maturation 19 w/ a gun, beam & a dream Tryna match thee allure of a man he never seen — everything He told his Momma what he know But when you selling these drugs it no Hippocratic oath Emotions is erased when you upping it from the your waist Bet a spray, If not ya opposition is led astray 33 shots rang 9 hit you above the waist The Trauma unit is real, homie imagine how ya momma feel ➖➖➖➖➖ It was 9 at night when the phone rang and all the bad news hit It’s when the time got slow & she can’t do shit But take it— she couldn’t gauge it—His murder page the front pages momma had to deal wit the stress and still arrange it His little brother stood painless, unable to mind frame it I guess it’ll come when the times change em — wit age Everyday his mother visit the grave Alternative thoughts like why he couldn’t sit in the cage This is rough, unreal, everyday he’s a no show Flashback to Ricky with his scratch & Ho-Ho’s Killas In Hondas, premonition, just look at Mrs. Baker face when she came walking up out the kitchen But this is real life no camera crew to shoot it No edited scenes over the melancholy music so if you out in the field just know the trauma real Play it wise lil homie, imagine how yo Momma feel Premonition Mrs. Baker Hell in the homes Flashing back to Ricky, boys in the hood on that old school couch knew the path he was going down 2. He wasn’t scared to die 3. Hadn’t been home in 3 days 4. Randomly popped home, 5. 2am wanted to sleep in his own be 6. Warrant for his arrest 7. 9pm got the phone call 8. If I would’ve 9. Was headed in his direction but got redirected 10. Baptized a week after Easter 11. He knew 12. 13. Convo conflict resolution 14. July 2nd fell on a 15. (Saturday) 16. Cemetery 17. Grandfather blaming the mother 18. Still did check ups, 9:30-10:10 pm 19. His momma called him selfish 20.
13.
Promises 03:24
I’m chasing my blessings and making it work I was made from the dirt, Birth is amazing you live then lay under earth I took the mud and I made it my worth Expanded to a mansion in the mind it’ll soon comes into the universe It’s worse, American made making it through the masquerade Being Black today is Cassius Clay wit a path to pave you can run, shoot or Catch the fade & if you mastering A it’s best you never come back this way Just evacuate, pack it up, cast away Im from the K the roots deeper than the blackest slave It’s in the blood you can track the trace Traumatic, Imagine, everything was practiced in a passive way Let The Dolla circulate, I grew up where the beef get ate, Jordan Jammed & cats percolate Regurgitate all ya laws & teachings The war is everlasting no one ever gets even (I promise it) ➖➖➖➖➖➖ My daughter asked me was I coming home before I left for her I never break promised They saying serve & protect but all they do is harass & arrest & break promises They wanna lock my body, they tell us that they gon give then take rhey break promises They wanna take my soul and see me off in a hole I can’t honor it ➖➖➖➖➖➖ Twas a cold night before the heartbreak, calls & heartaches, shots rang out made his whole block shake Rainstorms , shooter running through puddles cuz he ain’t goin His co-d was caught but everything seemed foreign He knew the code, police rolled, point it & blew a load One was apprehended but other shooter drove, & fled Clothes is red putting foes to bed The bullhorn explodes now the “white shirt” is red & furious Shooter at large armed & dangerous sirens is goin, every car alarm is banging —Out its mind the shooter played a chick for a alibi But little did he know was how them ppl would stategize Guns cocked - & then the footsteps & loud knocks Shorty was up getting ready for work to them loud pops (BANG) The cops shot & saw a gun when they rushed, But all the shorty had was a black hair brush, WTF?!?!! ➖➖➖➖➖➖ My daughter asked me was I coming home before I left for her I never break promised They saying serve & protect but all they do is harass & arrest & break promises They wanna lock my body, they tell us that they gon give then take rhey break promises They wanna take my soul and see me off in a hole I can’t honor it
14.
I move in this matrix, working for the Lucrative payments Everything I Spew is greatness & it’s proven contagious Philly the plague, spreading over eye contact This is class Cuban cigars some high cognac —In taste y’all niggas movin at a snail’s pace Hookahs & vapes, cheese wine & fresh grapes This is the feeling of blowing refer to Kurtis Blow in 81 shouting out - “These are The Breaks” We-need-all-the-cake, the beat on I need all the bass Hit the gas & i ease off the breaks We gotta get by, hardscrabble this is life in the Chi Post traumatic before he shot he looked him right in his eyes He survived— what U gon do? murder or forgiveness Just think of how many men be lurking w/ a vengeance Ready to kill, on site, he know it and he meant it Police at every door like Jehovah had a witness (it’s diffiferent) ➖➖➖➖➖ ➖➖➖➖➖ The harsh realities of life it takes a tolls mentally Head down go for the goal and take what’s meant for me I was searching for my soul so I took it Willingly Philharmonic devoted to the ghetto Symphony It was meant for me— it kept me out the Penetinary It kept me sane & I would write just to feel the energy Really share it with the kids show em what the vision be That’s why anytime you mention the real, mention me Found a gun when I was 10 what a hood tendency Power, the courage level where the grown men would be This is something in my hand that put grown men to sleep brother, uncle, & cousin or maybe even me Nas, “I Gave You Power” I would play it on the sneak In the mirror two-hand clutching finger underneath My granny found the fucking gun could’ve gave it to the D’s Instead she sold that bitch & made us some cheese (it’s different)
15.
What you want homie the pistol or the prophecy Life is full of cause & effect and sudden atrocities Tragedies, winners & loser shakers & movers & low level shooters, wit dark demented ideologies The world is after me it’s hard to stay afloat Everyday is temptation so it’s hard to stay awoke I’m God Guarded, but I’m scared to so it’s hard to take a joke Everyday we celebrate life the squad make a toast Listen, I lost my brother to the streets let me alarm you Murdered at 19 was buried in his Prom Suit I know the feeling when you get the call Thoughts like did suffers? Was it slow? I wanna go & kill em all Deep inside is where the trauma lives, it’s here Every smile fake like some veneers This is pain I inherited as a kid through the years A scared man is a dead man I lived through the fears What’s you riding too? - Where the love, thee streets gon kill you We all know that gon come, until the time come you better find ya way with a gun Nowadays you gotta pray on the rjn, Get money, drink water feed - Jealousy vs love will leave a body lifeless Bullets to the head, from close range they fired them Not everybody like it when you’re shining Untrustworthy, get drunk now you singing like Phyllis Hymen Gotta watch the ones that be close to you Y’all were smoking blunts together now they’re smoking you Went from dappin up and huggin, calling each other brother Even had got so close y’all cool with each other’s mothers Taken in with family, came thru on holidays When your man’s winning you should be giving a lotta praise Showing love in a lotta ways This fool wish it was him so he don’t care what you gotta say No questions, short answers for everything Heartbeats went bad like Flash and Eddie Kane A damn shame you gotta watch for the plot You can tell if murder was personal or not Where’s the love

about

What are the consequences of living in this fucked up world? Within the first few seconds of their collaborative album, Cost of Living, rapper Philmore Greene and producer Apollo Brown articulate this question with unequivocal clarity. It’s an inquiry that looms at the core of their elegiac and existential soundtrack to modern inner city life. How can one escape the systemic traps that have ensnared generations since time immemorial? What does it mean to make the right choices? And if you emerge from the chaos to live a beautiful life, how do you overcome the survivor’s guilt and lingering trauma?

Cost of Living is an album full of authenticity that can’t be faked. These are songs that betray the scar tissue. Contemplative fire. Verité films of the westside of Chicago. It’s this noirish part of town that nourished Greene and gave him nightmares. The place where he saw his first dead body in his early teens, where he lost his brother to the street violence only a few years later, and where he turned to the pad, pen and microphone as a refuge and way to share his hard-fought wisdom.

The themes are nothing less than life and death. A lifestyle of endemic poverty, opportunities denied and dreams deferred. With a roll of the dice you can receive death, prison, or a path out. As the scratched vocals of Common echo on the hook to “Steep Life:” “rappers and hoopers, we strive to be like.” Greene is all too aware of reality. Like the former Common Sense before him, he has created a canon of morals and integrity that eschews sanctimony. The testimony of someone who has seen dope runners and villains, broken passions and cold-blooded betrayals, the consequences that can befall you in the concrete jungle if you’re not careful (or even if you are).

Behind the boards, Apollo Brown creates a cinematic backdrop of tense, moody strings and hand-of-god drums. A reminder of why he’s already become a rightful heir to the throne of Pete Rock, J Dilla, and DJ Premier. As Pitchfork recently raved, the Detroit's producer’s “fidelity for the grime and grit of rap’s second Golden Age goes beyond simply trying to recreate DJ Premier beats. Flourishes across his instrumental projects and over a dozen collaborative albums unearth the passion he puts into his art.”

Philmore Greene is an ideal match for Brown’s sumptuous canvasses, an MC who the Chicago Reader has hailed for making “confident, luxuriant boom-bap.” But it’s his ability to convey complex emotions, empathetic street narratives, and heartbreaking pathos that make him singular. Consider the sharp detail of his words on “Welcome to the Ave,” where he namechecks the dice games, “all my n**’s grinding in the same clothes as yesterday,” the robberies and larcenies, the street pharmacies, the “question marks where the fathers be.”

On the Evidence-assisted lead single “Paradise,” Green unspools his gift for classic rap storytelling, comparing Chicago to Pakistan, noting the sex workers, church bells, and constant paranoia. He cites the hypocrisy of a world where you can get 40 years for drug trafficking and be out in three for murder.

The centerpiece might be “This is Me,” where Greene details his own personal struggles and psychological turmoil. The murder witnessed at age 14 that sent him to therapists and shrinks, “fighting a battle inside of my mind.” You can almost hear the lurking footsteps inside his skull, as he worries about being watched and followed by the killer. He takes you back to being a teenager, wondering if he’d make it to 25. You flash forward a decade later, and Greene wakes up on his 25th birthday, crying tears of gratitude for the fact that he’s still breathing.

The cost of living may be high, but Greene and Brown allow you to understand that it is not insurmountable. There are too many losses and not enough gains, but as long as there remains a belief in something deeper and the possibility of something better, hope remains alive. This is soul music in the deepest sense, not as an aesthetic but as a physical place, where heart, philosophy, and the spirit reside. This is something for the ages, a work of tragic timelessness. After all, these issues have been here before us, and they’ll be here long after us.

credits

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

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