Hailing from Princeton, New Jersey, Harsh is a talented new rapper whose music strikes upon a range of sounds, styles, and deeply personal moments. Bringing his influences as a NYU graduate, his music reflects both the timeless and modern, taking lead from the city’s old school veterans and long-time greats, while also presenting his own unique and unshakeably contemporary spin on the rap genre.
Utilising a range of performance styles from melodic singing to complex, fast-paced wordplay, Harsh brings his own flavour to the evolving world of hip-hop, while also paying strict homage to its roots. Hitting the spotlight with his debut mixtape ‘Boy Meets World’, Harsh announced himself as one of the United States’ most promising new talents.
‘Boy Meets World’ was an ambitious release that detailed his personal journey out of his hometown and into the burdensome adult life of the city. It was a deft showcase of situational awareness, vibrant ambition, and constant perseverance, infusing every fast-paced track, rhyme-heavy anthem, and hard-hitting beat. His debut album, ‘Apollo’ follows a very similar vein, capturing the timeless journeys that everyone takes in life, the trials and fears of facing the unknown, and the struggle to find your place in the world.
Reaching for celestial heights right from the start, ‘Apollo’ opens with ‘Launch’, a short intertwining of grand orchestration and snippets from the bygone age of space exploration. Arriving as a brief, but intriguing introduction, ‘Launch’ soon fades away, and in its place arrives the layered sounds of sophomore track ‘Ghost’. A solid track of passionately rapped lyrics, unapologetic, socially aware lyrics, ‘Ghost’ could be a killer standout single, if not for that constant and inescapable brass sound that breaks over everything else, cutting through Harsh’s flow and the melody of the song.
Following number ‘Takin’ Off’ is thankfully free of the same mistake, bringing an RnB flow to the forefront of the track along with some soaring, autotuned verse, and an underlying dance energy. It’s polished, professional, and like many of the tracks on ‘Apollo’ comfortably within its genre. Songs such as ‘No1 Else’, ‘U Want Love’, and ‘Runaway’ offer more solemn and earnest sounds, changing the tone and adding a heartfelt dose of emotion, amplified by some subtle, nuanced sounds and a real sense of control in Harsh’s delivery. They’re the sort of tracks where Harsh really shines, dropping the needless bells and whistles and sticking to what’s real and close to heart, letting the music flow and the honesty of his words steal the spotlight and run off into the night.
The title track hits hard and catch you by surprise, making its marks with a flow of heavy beats, a perfectly placed bassline, and an unlimited supply of bravado. Its an energised punch to the gut that comes between two more sombre tracks, causing a clash in energy that takes some time to get over and doesn’t really resurface until ‘POC’, a track that will likely divide audiences as to whether it’s good or just self-indulgent.
The rest of the album flies by in a blur of cut-copy moments until landing on the closing track, ‘Fly Away’, which is ultimately the track we’d be waiting to hear the entire way through the album. Rolling to just under seven-minutes in length, ‘Fly Away’ is Harsh’s defining moment, bringing together the best elements of the previous twelve cuts and forging ahead with a sound and persona that you can really believe in.
As an album, ‘Apollo’ is a mixed bag of many soaring highs and a few artistic lows. It’s an album that presents Harsh in a wonderfully honest light, and you can easily see how hard he’s worked to bring heart, soul, and truth back to the world of rap. By combining his modern vision with a love for the golden era of rap, he’s managed to cultivate an appealing sound that he can build on and refine, making ‘Apollo’ an impressive launching point for his career.
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