Apathy’s discography features several critically acclaimed albums. Many critics, including writers who reviewed Eastern Philosphy, Wanna Snuggle? and Honkey Kong for HipHopDX, have praised the Connecticut emcee’s storytelling concept tracks.
Apathy, who released Connecticut Casual in June and who has worked with DJ Premier, Evidence, B-Real, Xzibit and Mike Shinoda, among others, recently spoke with HipHopDX about the best concept songs he feels he’s crafted. Here are his picks.
#1. Apathy’s “School”
The first song Apathy mentions from the list is “School,” which tells the story of a school shooting as Ap delivers each verse from a different student’s perspective. This is an important concept driven cut for Apathy because it set the stage for more concepts to come.
“‘School’ was my first [concept song],” Apathy says. “I was emotionally upset after the Columbine shit happened. I was watching a 60 Minutes episode about the victims. I felt compelled to address that.”
His line about Columbine references a school shooting that took place April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado. Two students were reportedly responsible for the shooting, which claimed the lives of one teacher and 12 students, according to CNN. The incident has been referenced by several rappers, including Eminem and DJ Quik, a product of the mass media attention that was given to the shooting.
#2. Apathy’s “Victim”
A different news event influenced a separate concept track from Apathy, “Victim.”
“I watch and listen to a lot of news,” he says when discussing “Victim.” “There was one particular time when I kept hearing about all these young college girls being abducted, raped and murdered. And I thought to myself, ‘When is a psycho gonna pick up the wrong chick and killed himself?’ I wished for that to happen. So, I wrote about it.”
The song features a haunting tale to match the eerie chorus. As Apathy ends his first verse, he rhymes about the heart of the concept. “When a killer kills a killer and reality’s disrupted / The victim’s not a victim and the hunter is the hunted.”
#3. Apathy’s “The Buck Stops Here”
While watching the news sparked the first two concepts Apathy mentioned, reading helped inspire the next cut, “The Buck Stops Here.”
“This song was born after I read a fact about 90 percent of currency having traces of cocaine on it,” Apathy says. “That was just profound to me, to think of how universal handling money is.”
A 2009 CNN article reported that research at the time “reinforced previous findings that 90 percent of paper money circulating in U.S. cities contains traces of cocaine.”
This is explored through various lines on the song. “You ever have a dollar bill sittin’ in your pocket?” Ap raps to introduce the track. “Pull it out and take a deeper look at this object / Think of all it’s seen / From the jeans of crack fiends / To doctors’ Docker pants / Stop to glance / See what I mean? / Same dollar bill that’s stuffed in a stripper’s thong / Could be the same dollar bill that’s out shoppin’ with your mom / Same dollar bill buyin’ drugs for junkies / Is the same dollar bill for your kid’s lunch money.”
#4. Apathy’s “What Goes Up”
Although some of Apathy’s concept ideas have come from news events, others are influenced by real life experiences.
“I was on the phone with Celph Titled one day, who was visiting his mother, and mid-conversation, he was startled by some crazy sound at the front door,” Apathy says. “A bullet which was shot up in the air, probably mad far away, hit his front door and lodged in. I guess you could tell it came from above by the diagonal downward path the bullet made in the door. But that was crazy to me. I have a crazy fucked up imagination, so I thought about what would happen if someone shot a gun like that in New York City. What are the odds that it would hit someone you know?”
That moment in Celph Titled’s mother’s home led to “What Goes Up,” a story about a man who decides to leave a life of crime behind by shooting his last bullet in the air at midnight on New Year’s Day. The bullet’s path is detailed on the track and its landing is explained in a plot twist.
#5. “1:52 AM”
Another song with a surprising plot twist is Apathy’s “1:52 AM,” a cut that, like “School,” details a story from three perspectives.
“Most of the time when you watch a movie, or show, or hear a story, it’s from one person’s perspective at a specific point in time,” Apathy says. “I wanted to make a story, about three different people, all at the exact same time, from each individual’s perspective. I wanted to see each thought process that lead up to this climax.”
The climax connects the three perspectives in the final verse.