If you follow my Twitter, you’ve probably seen me tweeting All Elite Wrestling and Tony Khan about a song called “Taiga Styling” from True and Apollo. I’m not just doing this for my health, guys. In fact, the song features on the AEW Who We Are: A Celebration of Excellence, Vol. 1 album that’s due out today. Additionally, it’s appeared on AEW programming with its focus, rising wrestler Lee Moriarty. If you watch AEW Dynamite and saw AEW Dynamite this Wednesday, you’ll know who he is and why this is monumental. If you know True and Apollo, you’ll know this is also monumental because the three of us (four if you count Shxggy) are just dudes from Baltimore who love rap and enjoy wrestling. It’s a big moment. It’s not often people you know get featured on national TV in a match with Bryan Danielson, no less.
Now, any time True and Apollo see a win, I’m like “yay go DAR Elite.” I mean, I always want my brothers to win. When that win’s part of a whole collection of Black artistry (dedicated to Black wrestling and Black wrestlers, no less)? You can bet your last dollar that I’ll promote the win to everyone who frequents SOTB. True mentioned to me that he wanted to do something that’d stand the test of time. That is, while also being in line to what DAR typically does on a track. That’s where Apollo comes into play, since the two have worked together for close to twenty-five years at this point.
I’ve had a chance to hear some of the album, aside from “Taiga Styling” and the other DAR-featuring “Fish N’ Chips” (which is a track dedicated to Anthony Agogo). It’s a diverse collection of Black music, from pop to funk to hip-hop. It’s monumental in some ways because many wrestling company-created projects are more on the not-as-serious side of things (looking at you, “Put a Little Ass on It”). Additionally, it’s one of the first (as far as I’ve seen) collections that delves deep into its Black company members and adds a lot to their characters and backstories at once.
Suffice to say, it’s good stuff.
Sonically, the project showcases a lot of styles. Artistic visions range from indie legends to wrestlerappers to a slew of Baltimore artists who’re legends in their own right to podcast cohosts who also rap. In other words, you’d be hard-pressed to not find something you like on this one. That’s even before you get into the non-rap side of things. True and Apollo come together and bring HS-styled bars and production to the wrestling world with their tracks. That is especially cool to see, considering True’s history and desire to make it on TV for his mom. Mega Ran does well with his featured spots (interesting sidenote: the beat for “No Hooks Needed” from TSL2 was originally produced as a demo for Ran). Wrestle and Flow and the Grapsody duo drop bars that are fire and also diverse. You get other Baltimore-based rappers involved in the form of Bliz and Tizzy.
Simply put, everyone does the damn thing.
Another reason why the project feels authentic is that AEW partnered with The Bootsy Collins Foundation to use some of the proceeds of the LP to help further fund BCF endeavors. If you’re not familiar with the Bootsy Collins Foundation, in a few words, it’s an organization dedicated to introducing children from all backgrounds and groups to music. I’m here for this type of collaboration and hope that AEW–and other wrestling promotions with Black and POC talent–continue to do these sorts of things. Sure, having a Black wrestler in a main event of a show is cool. Having them continuously spotlighted through something like this? I think that’s the move, personally.
As mentioned, the album drops today and will be in digital streaming platforms soon. So, if you want Blackness, wrestling and good vibes, you know what to do. Check it out and support dope music in all its forms. Who knows? You may find your new favorite wrestlerap in the process. The tracklist is as follows:
- Intro f. Bootsy Collins
- In The Mix (Red Velvet Story) f. Will Washington, Wrestle and Flow, Cutright, E.Quipped
- Taiga Styling (Lee Moriarty Story) f. True God, Shokus Apollo
- Shine (Nyla Rose Story) f. Richa Latta, Monteasy, Jon Connor, Bliz
- Whatcha Lookin’ At (Sonny Kiss Story) f. Sonny Kiss, Brinson
- Victory (Jay Lethal Story) f. Alexv, Omega Sparx, Swats, Kit Walters
- Knockout (Jade Cargill Story) f. Rich Latta, Monteasy, Anthiny King, Righteous Reg
- No Socks (Ricky Starks Story) f. Applejaxx, Brinson, E.Quipped
- I’m The Captain (Shawn Dean Story) f. Cutright, E.Quipped, Isaac Mather
- Mixed Messages (Max Caster Story) f. Max Caster
- BGM (Brandi Rhodes Story) f. Mega Ran, Touré Masters, FrivolousShara, Lost Perception
- The Bootsy Collins Foundation f. Patti Collins
- Underneath Me (Anthony Bowens Story) f. Zane Oliver, Quinn O’Donnell
- Fish N’ Chips (Anthony Ogogo Story) f. Mega Ran, True God, Bliz, Tizzy
- Ready to Go (Private Party Story) f. Staylo Dom
- Legend (Mark Henry Story) f. Rich Latta, Monteasy, Wrestle and Flow
- Who’s the Coldest (Top Flight Story) f. Brinson
- Powerhouse (Will Hobbs Story) f. Will Washington, Righteous Reg, Gram
- Dats On Period (Kiera Hogan Story) f. Tamira Slade, Tizzy, Bliz
- Fully Loaded (Lee Johnson Story) f. R8ed R
- Up in the Clouds (Scorpio Sky Story) f. Omega Sparx, Swats, Teek Hall, Doe the Paperboy, Mega Ran, K-Drama