Apollo Creed – like the fictional heavyweight champion from which he adopted his name, is no stranger to “the fightin’ life” as we say in the West Indies. Standing in the tradition of the classic emcees of yesteryear, but simultaneously too abstract for the profane, Apollo Creed embodies both the soulful poet and the gritty emcee don’t nobody wanna battle. His music is a diary of struggle, from a man who in the course of his life has experienced his share of it. The struggle against socio-economic oppression; the struggle for mental and spiritual clarity in a consumerist society obsessed with material things; the struggle to manifest one’s will as an individual and as an artist against the cold hard realities of paying the rent. The dichotomy of struggle is at the essence of Apollo Creed’s music.
Born to immigrant parents from Jamaica and St.Vincent, Apollo Creed grew up in Toronto’s Lawrence Heights neighbourhood. Known locally as “Jungle”, the largely West Indian and East African community got the name in the 1960s as a reference to Asphalt Jungle, the classic black and white gangster flick starring Marilyn Monroe. Life in Lawrence Heights was challenging, inspiring, life shaping, and Apollo Creed pays homage to his neighbourhood on a number of his songs: “You knew I grew up in Lawrence Heights / raised with stains, hunger pains, cop’s flashlights / home to Hustleman, home to Phillip Dixon / so I learned to cuts heads in the finest precision.” It was here that Apollo Creed became fascinated with the world of sound - the Motown records his mother would play on the turntable, the Biblical hymns and country-western standards his grandmother loved, and the random noise of everyday life in the projects.
This was the setting that shaped the man who in his teens would appear unto the underground rap scene under the alias ART.I.MISS. As part of rap duo Urban Mythology alongside producer Optimus Pryme, he dropped Cultural Cannibalism in 2004, an eclectic blend of rap orthodoxy and experimental electronic production, passionate and complex flows, with an overriding theme of the decay of culture under global consumer-capitalism. Switching gears, in 2006 Apollo Creed teamed up with Al Buddy Black and DJ Alibi to form side project Pucker Oats, whose album Day One at a Time was more of a return to golden-age rap - laidback, jazzy, soulful production and songs about every day trials and tribulations, that Toronto’s EYE weekly described as “the ideal soundtrack to an afternoon of resting your eyes on a sunny patio.” Urban Mythology and Pucker Oats created much buzz in the United States and Europe, leading to a cross-country tour of France in 2007. In recent years Apollo Creed has been a fixture of the Toronto hip-hop scene known for his incredible live performances, while working on a full-length solo album and as part of side-projects Ladyboxx and Soul Custody.