“Blood on my conscience/ my inner vision/ steady getting darker/ look how my n***as livin/ n***a we penny pinchin/ the harder way/ she took my heart away/ searchin for brighter days” ~Markis Apollo (It Only Gets Darker)

Portland by way of Dallas rap artist Markis Apollo just dropped off his new 8-track project, Nightmares On 6th Ave (Part 1), and it’s definitely worth talking about.

Only 23 years old, the trap-influenced conscious rapper with the polarizing voice cycles through various concepts, from growing up in drug infested communities, navigating the inevitability of police brutality and dealing with depression. With no features on the project, Apollo confidently expresses himself utilizing a variety of appropriately expressive inflections. Clever pop culture audio clips from movies and interviews dropped throughout the project successfully mesh with the movie title-influenced track names to add a cinematic air to the short project, and do well to set the tone between tracks.

The flow is certainly strong with this one, and his beat selection is excellent; still, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the project at times. A little more power behind his voice would go a long way… Maybe it’s just the mix, but sometimes it feels like his voice gets blanketed by the beats he’s rapping on. I’ve criticized him before a lack of focus on his hooks, leaving otherwise fire verses to fend for themselves in an era of marvelously over-produced music. The minimal hooks on 96′ [Where The Wild Things Are], The Devil’s Advocate and The Prayer [4AM] are great examples of that; however, tracks like Locals Only “Rose” and ReignMan show improvement in this area. It should also be noted that Apollo is very good with bridges and his tracks are often arranged in such a way that hooks aren’t always necessary.

1That said, this first installment is a good listen and you can really see the progression since his last project. His position as one of the town’s premiere thug poets is evident. Still, I can’t get over the feeling that Markis’ best work is ahead of him. For his next project, I’d love to see the young rapper link up with a producer(s) who can push him to reach his potential.

Great vibe music nonetheless, give Nightmares On 6th Ave a spin and let us know what you think. #OutHere