An Honest Review of @TrueGodImmortal and @ShokusApollo's #TheOutsiders

Disclosure: Please note that, while it's always #DARBiz, I will be looking at this album objectively (read: looking at as if I didn't know True, Apollo, or anything about Team DAR). Therefore, it won't be straight-up 10s across the board if it doesn't deserve it. This is my team, so as a member of said team, I want to provide constructive opinions on team releases, just as True did for Death of the King. Now that this disclosure's out the way, let's get into the music.

Team DAR members True God and Shokus Apollo, known as HS when performing together, have known each other for the better part of two decades. It's that long friendship that forged their second HS release, The Outsiders. A sequel, of sorts, to 2015's Upper Echelon, The Outsiders is darker and more aggressive than its predecessor.

We first see that aggression with the intro track "Never Fold." Both Apollo and True attack the beat. True hops out with some double-time bars, burning through opposition while Apollo focuses more on enunciating every bar so you feel the urgency. From this pledge of allegiance to the real, we get a boom-bap pledge of allegiance to beautiful black women in "Brown Sugar." Apollo's rapped verse on here felt a bit all-over-the-place, and felt a bit out of place (the food references at the end, while they tie in, felt kind of like an outtake more than anything else). Overall, it's a cool track and full of lines like "20% Blackfoot, and the rest is pro-Black" bringing back the love for Blackness.

Next up, we've got a "Human Nature"-sampling trippy, Dilla-esque track in "Illuminate Your Mind." The beat feels a bit too busy, and it kind of takes me out of the track. The bars, when you can focus on them, they're solid and spit some knowledge. However, I'd personally rock with this track a bit more if the beat was a bit cleaned-up.

"Supreme" is the antithesis, in some ways, to "Illuminate." The beat is trippy, but simplistic in its approach. From here, we get a smoky, jazzy track in "Atlantis." It's, in some ways, the story of True and Apollo and how they've gotten to where they are now. I love the instrumental ride out on it. However, I wish it didn't cut off so abruptly.

"Glass" is trap-inspired and takes about a minute to finally get into the song. But, once it does, it's a boisterous track. Apollo and True man the Auto-Tune ship to further detail their journey. The bass keeps you into the track until we get to the first chorus. But, I can't help but think how much more off-the-wall this track would've been without the minute wait until Apollo's chorus.

From waiting a minute for the song to kickoff to a track that hits you from the jump, "Little Mexico" feels like Kingpin Rap for "Woke" Folks. I don't mean that as an insult to HS or to "woke" people. However, this track has that sort of vibe. And that vibe continues in "Columbiana," a Cookin' Soul-inspired, cabana-friendly track. The mood switches, a bit, from drug rap-inspired bars to love of the female form, which leads us to "Something About Her." I'm a bit on the fence about this track. I like it. However, I feel it's a bit overkill with the theme to have it right after Columbiana.

Even with that in mind, we get "Right Here with Me," a sort of "'03 Bonnie and Clyde" meets "Bound 2" hybrid. It's one of the strongest tracks on the album, as it takes everything people may love about HS (lyrical content, teaching lyrics that aren't over-the-top with their "intelligence," that mix between vulgar and profound, etc.) and provides accordingly.

Closing out the album, we're given more of that HS flow with "What a Day" and "Strong Together." The freestyle form of "What a Day" lends well to True and Apollo just discussing life and its complexities, as both artist are "[around] 27, but still affected by Father Time." "Strong Together" features lines such as "Making history on mini-budgets/I know some people hated, but I know that plenty loved it." That, for me, is the appeal of a DAR or an HS. They're dropping these tracks with minimal promotion budgets, mostly using word-of-mouth and the like to get over. And, from what I'm seeing, it's working.

Final Verdict:

I rock with the album and its approach. Is it a perfect album? No. True already discussed that in his own review of his project. However, it's a pretty cohesive effort that, for the most part, avoids that horrible cliche of a "sophomore slump." It's less cluttered than Upper Echelon, but still has a track or two that could've been replaced or reworked. But, overall, it's an album worth checking out.

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