Having dropped his first project back in 1999, Ohio emcee Aarophat is a veteran when it comes to putting together authentic, intelligent underground Hip-Hop. This latest effort, the Midwest microphone fiend’s seventh studio release, showcases the skills of an individual who has worked hard to truly master his craft and continues to push himself creatively in order to make the best music he possibly can.
In a time when so many rappers both known and unknown appear satisfied to simply go through the motions and pair sub-par verses with bland, beats-by-numbers production, “Invictus” rises high above the mediocrity both musically and lyrically, matching complex, carefully-crafted rhymes with warm-yet-rugged soundscapes from the likes of Illmind, The Audiologists and Tone Beatz.
The sublime Mok Vurban-produced “Get You There” outlines Aarophat’s pure approach to his art, with the forthright emcee dropping dense verses detailing his initial inspiration for wanting to rap over pounding boom-bap tinged with mysticism (“I never started rhyming for the fame or popularity…”). The album’s lead single, the Lex Boogie-produced “PANIC!”, is a considered, thoughtful warning to wack emcees, with Aaro wrapping his multi-syllable wordplay around crisp drums, crackling piano samples and a well-placed Special Ed vocal snippet with triumphant results.
The self-explanatory “Graffiti” is a hypnotic dedication to those creating visual magic in city environments the world over with spray cans and fat markers, whilst the album’s subtle title track is full of motivational rhymes encouraging listeners to “put some light up in your soul” and face life’s challenges head on with both strength and perseverance.
The superb “Tell You About The Game” utilises the same atmospheric Art Farmer sample employed by producer T-Ray on Kool G. Rap’s 1995 track “For Da Brothaz”, with Aarophat using the smooth backdrop to school newcomers with champagne dreams on the realities of life as an independent artist striving to leave a mark in the Hip-Hop world (“From behind the curtains rappers get played like accordions…”).
A true joy to listen to, “Invictus” is an oasis of quality music in today’s desert of disposable beats and rhymes. Aarophat has succeeded in putting together a real gem of an album here which taps into the feel of vintage true-school Hip-Hop of the past whilst still maintaining its own identity in the present, ensuring heavy-rotation throughout 2012 and beyond.
Behind-the-scenes of the video shoot for Aarophat’s single “PANIC!”.