Hip Hop’s longstanding male dominance is no industry secret. In its 30-plus years of existence, Hip Hop music’s gender imbalance has been quietly accepted by supporters and artists alike. Without question, there have been commercial success stories such as Salt-N-Pepa and MC Lyte to some degree but the current landscape looks bleak in the mainstream for the female MC. To date, the enigmatic Nicki Minaj stands firmly at the helm of female MCs in the spotlight. In the underground however, there exists a strong number of female MCs who have talent that rival and oftentimes surpasses their male counterparts. Among that talented throng is Detroit-born, Atlanta-based MC Boog Brown. After delivering the entertaining Grind Season Vol. 1 mixtape earlier in the year, Boog Brown returns paired with fellow Detroit native producer Apollo Brown to create the soulful and melodic Brown Study.
The album gets underway on a strong note with ”Marinate”, Apollo provides a sparse horn loop backed by light drums play the background while the confident and autobiographical rhymes from Boog Brown are the true highlight; Boog’s effortless flow is on display early. “Master Plan” is an early highlight with Apollo’s epic track and Boog’s earnest delivery gelling well – the rhymes resonate with humility and deliberate thought while the hook ties the MC’s vision into a neat bow. “Friction” is an aggressive head nod inducing banger from Apollo and featuring fellow Michigan powerhouse MCs Miz Korona and Invincible. While Miz Korona and Boog Brown offer some strong lines, the blistering and focused rhymes from Invincible steal the show easily. “Just Be” is a delightful shift in mood as Apollo softens up the sound and offers an atmospheric track that’s nearly perfect for Boog Brown’s excellent vocals. Typically the love song in Hip Hop music has been rendered a corny and unnecessary staple but Boog’s version works simply because she sells the listener on her intentions and vulnerability – a rare feat for any MC.
“My Love” continues the romance vibe but fails to impress as the track before it due in part to the formulaic R&B vocals of Poodie The Byz. Apollo’s choice of a sample and drums feels stiff and inorganic, even with Boog Brown rapping with clarity and conviction. The track is entirely skip-worthy in every regard. After a series of slightly stronger tracks, such as the amazing verses and production in the track “Carpe Diem”, the album really peaks near the end. “Play The Game” is one of the LP’s brighter spots and the feature from Low Budget member Kenn Starr is an excellent pairing. Boog’s honest portrayal of having to use her sexuality for gain and fighting for respect beyond her looks is refreshing. Kenn Starr, who is in possession of one of the most dexterous flows on the planet, is in top form. The hook is a touch thin but serves the purpose of the track well enough.
Closing the LP is “Understanding”, which is arguably the album’s best offering – in fact, it should be a candidate for song of the year. Boog Brown’s autobiographical storytelling ability and her uncanny knack of being fearlessly transparent belies all of the bravado present in points through the LP; Apollo Brown does the listener a favor and saves the best for last with his production. It is here when Boog’s artistry is fully realized – a beautiful woman with more than enough measurable talent who is willing to sacrifice image and herself to prove her worth. If Boog Brown can continue in this vein of balancing her confidence with the sheer naked portrayals of her life, she can soon count herself amongst the greats MCs regardless of gender.
3 out of 5