Review: Apex Zero (@ApexZero00) ‘All And Nothing’ EP

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Enslave­ment: “The action of mak­ing someone a slave; sub­jug­a­tion”

Apex Zero is an emcee who has used a unique fusion of hip hop, dub beats, and oth­er music­al mech­an­isms as a tool to espouse polit­ic­al, social, and per­son­al res­ist­ance for more than a dec­ade.

The arrival of the new ep, All and Noth­ing, con­tin­ues this tra­di­tion with per­haps more urgency than ever before. If we were in any doubt as to Apex’s con­tinu­ing com­mit­ment to change and his integ­rity, we need only look at the release date. It is hard to think of a bleak­er time in Brit­ish polit­ics for those most mar­gin­al­ised in our soci­ety. Young people, refugees, eth­nic minor­it­ies, reli­gious minor­it­ies, and those with dis­ab­il­it­ies to name just a few, find them­selves ever­more dis­en­fran­chised by aus­ter­ity meas­ures. We have just had a gen­er­al elec­tion. It is easy to feel power­less when so few hold the power. As French philo­sopher Jean Paul Sartre poignantly said, “When the rich wage war it’s the poor that die”. Apex Zero is here to remind us that while we live, while we breathe, while we can speak, then we do not have to be pass­ive sub­jects in our own lives. Even on the smal­lest scale, for instance through the music we make, even listen to, we can be act­ive agents of both our own fate and of change in our own way. “The world is yours – you own it” (Fly­ing High, All and Noth­ing).

Couple togeth­er the title of the EP, with the lyr­ics and con­cept behind the lead single and first track, 21st Cen­tury Enslave­ment, there is no doubt as to the pre­vail­ing theme that is driv­ing Apex Zero fero­ciously at this time.

All and Noth­ing con­cep­tu­ally and music­ally embod­ies both themes, and music­al meth­ods of pro­duc­tion, that are an ori­gin­al mix­ture of both old and new. This is what makes them unique. For instance, music­ally, most songs com­bine beau­ti­ful, often calm­ing beats with full on, angry hip hop vocals. And it works like a dream. Polit­ic­ally, it is a sim­ple title depict­ing an age old prob­lem. The ever con­tinu­ing polar­ity between rich and poor, haves and have nots, the main­stream and the mar­gins. These are bru­tal times, and that is par­alleled by the music. Apex wastes no time. From the first line on the bril­liant lead single, to the last bars of the JamA­freeca remix of Fly­ing High, the power pro­jec­ted by the emcee is neces­sar­ily bru­tal, and breath­tak­ing. This high­lights a double mean­ing in the title, not just the sub­ject mat­ter in the deep­er sense. In a more lit­er­al sense it con­veys the energy expounded. Apex is pre­pared to give his all in high­light­ing injustice and gar­ner­ing hope, and it is black and white; give everything you have to your art, to your cause, or go home.

Inter­est­ingly, Apex, in the first track 21st Cen­tury Enslave­ment is telling us that while imbal­ances of power are an age-old prob­lem, it is through new means that this is being propag­ated. Mar­gin­al­isa­tion, the song shows us, is not neces­sar­ily always overt. The sup­pres­sion, the ali­en­a­tion, the exploit­a­tion have taken on cun­ning forms, very often in mundane ways. Wage Slavery for instance means a job does not render “someone free”. It would seem that the more cov­ert forms of enslave­ment in this cen­tury are, para­dox­ic­ally, both subtle and nasty. But the new also con­tains the old. “Every gen­er­a­tion, same shit begin again and starts over”. Fierce lyr­ics exist on top of some spe­cial and extremely lovely beats. Like the world we live in that the song describes, 21st Cen­tury Enslave­ment hits us hard. But rather than hit­ting mar­gin­al­ised groups hard, and tak­ing from those who need it the most, Apex gives us some­thing valu­able in a way that tran­scends mon­et­ary value.

Exclu­sion as a theme con­tin­ues into The Way. The first line is both sad and telling: “I sit star­ing at a cold sun”. It speaks of exclu­sion, of mar­gin­al­isa­tion, of ali­en­a­tion, and of empti­ness. It seems that even nature, which we have des­troyed will no longer let us in.

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Fly­ing High, and its remix at the end of All and Noth­ing, con­tains some bril­liant dub beats. In essence it puts for­ward the notion that we are born in chains. “Every­one who’s had a taste of being free, who’s shook them shackles off, felt all that relief, every­one who’s nev­er felt it now’s your time”.

This is where Apex Zero is try­ing to con­front the prob­lem that the philo­sopher Jean Paul Sartre talked about, the fear of freedom. Some of the shackles are our own, because we are afraid of break­ing out. We can be very frightened of abso­lute freedom. “Man is con­demned to be free”, Sartre said, adding that it’s what you do with that freedom that is import­ant. It’s clear, if we were to have a free world, the songs all point towards Apex Zero want­ing one where we are not just inert sub­jects, where eth­ni­city and reli­gion do not invoke pre­ju­dice, and where pover­ty does not cripple people, leav­ing them hungry and des­per­ate. Philo­sopher Albert Camus also said, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so abso­lutely free that your very exist­ence is an act of rebel­lion”. Apex expresses a freedom that he has found, hence, he is a rebel, in that he vocal­ises elo­quently the truth as he sees it.

With two remixes, one of 21st Cen­tury Enslave­ment, the second an Afric­an Jam ver­sion of Fly­ing High, the ep All and Noth­ing, is fin­ished off in sub­lime fash­ion.

All or Noth­ing cov­ers timely top­ics with an almost bru­tal, breath­tak­ing energy. Those top­ics may be ugly, but the effect is the com­plete oppos­ite, it con­tains a strong beau­ty. It is hope­ful and inspir­ing when so many have given up polit­ic­ally in an age where aus­ter­ity has hit them hard.

Listen­ing to All and Noth­ing, one is struck not just by the out­stand­ing and clev­er musi­cian­ship, but also the mor­al integ­rity of Apex Zero. Reminded of Albert Camus’s asser­tion that “A man without eth­ics is a wild beast let loose upon this world”, Apex Zero offers up hope with­in an ever grow­ing urb­an jungle. Power is not dis­trib­uted equally, but we are not power­less either. In giv­ing us this know­ledge Apex is giv­ing us the greatest gift of all. That of hope wrapped up in a pack­age of beau­ti­ful and hard hit­ting music.

Get your copy of the EP today via Amazon, ITun­es Or Band­camp.

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Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor is a Lon­don based writer whose Interests are based primar­ily on music and art and also the philo­sophies and polit­ics that accom­pany them. In addi­tion she has an Msc in psy­cho­logy, has worked as a ther­ap­ist, and paints abstract art pieces.

About Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor
Kate Taylor is a London based writer whose Interests are based primarily on music and art and also the philosophies and politics that accompany them. In addition she has an Msc in psychology, has worked as a therapist, and paints abstract art pieces.