Opening for hip-hop heavyweights Joell Ortiz and Freeway and he’s only 21…That’s simply talent that can’t be denied. His lyrics speak true life and his energy is contagious. Apollo The Great started rapping a few short years ago and already his career has blossomed on print, on stage and on speakers in that short time. He was born to do this.
With three mixtapes under his belt already and one to come–Apollo 21–Apollo obviously lives to share his talent with hip-hop aficionados. It’s only right that this golden kid rhyme in the style of the golden era. While Apollo doesn’t like to define his sound, but it’s got elaborate metaphors, complex wordplay and a smooth flow that keeps your heart racing.
Let’s go back to the beginning of when you started getting your interest in music and when things started to come together for you…
I’ve always been surrounded by hip-hop. My older cousin raps, so I started getting serious in my senior year and when I graduated high school.
Did you always like to write?
Oh yeah. I was always writing. That’s the only class I paid attention to in school. It really started with that and just gravitated towards music.
How did things start to come together–from having an interest to actually doing it?
I got in the studio, learned the craft of making a song and shit and from there, the response I got from the people around me led me to take it serious. I put together a CD and mixtapes and all that. Once I saw how people responded to it, I started going harder. Plus, I didn’t have too many options…I was interested in doing.
You’re 21, so young…
My number is young [laughs].
How many years have you been doing this?
I’ve been writing songs and stuff since I was 14. I started taking it serious a few years ago.
I know a lot of people are hating on you right now. Just a few years doing this and you’ve already had opportunities to open up for Joell Ortiz and Freeway…that’s crazy!
I guess it is. They were hating me in elementary school. [laughs] It gets like that.
I’ve heard three of your mixtapes. What is the biggest difference between History is Made (H.I.M.) and H.I.M. 2?
The first one was written more so from a child’s mindstate. It was a situation that came from being a kid and growing up. Those were things I carried with me from being a kid up until that point. H.I.M. 2 was me expressing things that I didn’t express in the first one. On H.I.M., I have a song called, “On My Own,” and I was basically explaining how my life played out. My father passed away when I was six. I explained how that affected my life. I have four older brothers who I don’t really know. I felt as though for some sh*t like that to happen, family should be family. It didn’t happen that way.
There’s another joint on there called “Valley of Darkness” where I was talking about [certain] females…The woman I was dealing with at that time, she wasn’t a good influence to her daughter. There’s a lot of personal stuff in H.I.M. that I was getting off my chest.
What about H.I.M. 2?
I developed more as an artist. All of my music comes from personal experience, but I was able to illustrate it on a different level.
How have you been able to see yourself personally grow as an artist over the few years that you’ve been at it?
[At first], it was just rap and knowing how to. Now, I look at my performances and get my live show together. I think that’s a big part of being an artist. That’s what people want to see. They want it to be just as good as the record. I see a lot of changes in my performance since I started.
Born and raised in Jersey. Does your sound rep the east coast or do you feel there’s a different sound coming from you…?
I don’t have a sound. I can make any kind of music and do it as good as the people that make that kinda of music will do it. I try to stay as east coast as I can because that’s the kind of music I like to listen to. For the most part, that’s where I keep it. I can go in different lanes if I wanted to.
Why don’t you?
I prefer the east coast, New York 90’s sound. That’s just the music I like. At the same time, I try to make it kind of new but still keep that 90’s hip-hop essence.
Who are some of the people you consider an influence when it comes to your music?
Besides my cousin, I have to say him first–his name is Verb Spielberg. Then, Nas. He definitely is a big influence. I listen to Jay, Wu Tang–all the good stuff man, legends.
Who is someone that people would be surprised to know you listen to?
**read Apollo’s response and the rest of the interview here**