Apathy made a name for himself as one of the heavyweights in underground hip hop. Today his music contains traces of former iteration, but he’s definitely switched up his game. Apathy even dropped the latter part of his former moniker. During the early 90’s he went by the name Apathy the Alien Tongue. Now it’s just Apathy. The Jedi Mind Tricks debut album The Psycho-Social features Apathy in his former iteration on a few tracks. In 2012 he dropped The Alien Tongue, an album of demos and unreleased material showcasing his early works, harking back to his Alien Tongue days. Definitely differing from his current catalog, it’s refreshingly rugged and offers an interesting look at the roots of a now underground legend.
If you’re familiar with Jedi Mind Tricks’ The Amber Probe EP and The Psycho-Social, you’ll likely have flashbacks while listening to The Alien Tongue. If the title isn’t a clue, cover art alone tips off listeners that they are in for an intergalactic ride. The astronaut boot beside a cassette tape on the moon compliments the disc’s contents. Beats are raw in a golden age fashion. Drum kicks are punchy, hi hats defined, and obscure, often dark, samples abound. “Galaxy Rays” kicks off the album with a howling sound, reminiscent of wind, and a voice moaning “Adventures in time and space…dimension X.” Adding to the sci-fi feel are references to flicks like Plan 9 From Outer Space on “Mic Warz” and Star Wars on “Alien Invasion.” Yet Apathy doesn’t simply deliver clever pop-culture infused punchlines. From his talk of tetrahedral physics on “Alien Invasion,” it’s clear he’s done his homework. The chorus finds the artist borrowing the Oompa-loompas chant. While the Willy Wonka tune elicits a chuckle, it isn’t goofy.
“Dark Holy Chronicles” continues the rambling, supernatural themes which play prominently during the audio excursion. Tinges of horrorcore pepper the album He raps, “I look up to the skies/And see a pair of eyes/That seem to paralyze/And hypnotize my mind.” Not only is his imagery vivid, but the complicated flow, and heavy use of internal rhyme schemes is mind-blowing. Apathy’s confident delivery keeps stride with the plodding beat behind. While the majority of the tracks contain sci-fi references, there are a few more traditional songs which add variety. “The Big Hurt” is classic storytelling and the featured artists Punchline, Wordsworth, A.L. Skills, Wiseguy and Gaston perform admirably. The track feels like a mic passing session in a back room.
Similarly, “We Can Get Down” is a comedic dis track. He calls out wack rappers with lines like “Fuck sippin’ 40’s and ice in your shorty’s jewelry/Most of y’all are broken as shit, you don’t fool me/So-called playa/Rockin’ fake alligator/Walking through the club disconnected cellular and pager.” Further on he says “I’m not saying I’m the man-well, yes I am/I would even be dope if I drove in a Trans Am/With my windows tinted cheap speakers bumping Def Lepperd.” The sentiment reflects the idea that rap is more than appearance, an underground tenant. Interestingly, he says “Now adays kids are all about Puffy and Wu.” For most hip hop fans, P. Diddy and Wu-Tang aren’t even on the same level. Looking back on this line it’s more comical than when Apathy composed it.
The final eight tracks are instrumentals. Like any good hip hop head, I found myself rapping along to the beat. Luckily for your sake and mine, I did not record my feeble attempts at spontaneous lyric spewing. The included instrumentals are catchy, but not quite as strong as the rest of the album merely for the fact that Apathy’s vocals are absent. Overall, this is a fantastic throwback disc, a time machine to the 90’s. If you haven’t copped this one already, go grab it throw it in your tape deck. Or, more realistically, on your phone.