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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 29, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Concluding an astonishingly productive decade which brought collaborations with Ras Kass, Planet Asia, Joell Ortiz, and countless others, beatmaker Apollo Brown penned a love letter to his home city with the expansive, masterful Sincerely, Detroit. The album's guest list includes what seems like practically the entire Detroit rap scene, or at least everyone within Mello Music Group's orbit, including Guilty Simpson, Boog Brown, Crown Nation (Quelle Chris and Denmark Vessey), and Chris Orrick. As with Brown's previous top-billed albums like The Reset and Grandeur, the producer has such a focused artistic vision that it's just as cohesive as his collaborations with a single MC, and it never feels like a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Simply put, he knows exactly the right people to work with, and how to channel their energies into deeply inspired, powerful work. Brown's productions are heavy on vintage soul -- several tracks begin with a slow, weepy sample seemingly grabbed from a scratchy old 45 or a late-night radio broadcast. He then flips them into meticulously crafted beats, with some edits approaching microhouse-level precision, yet it never sounds cluttered or random, and there's always plenty of room for the emcees to shine. The lyrics, as to be expected, are all informed by the struggles of daily life, touching on pressing issues such as denial of medical care and the city's ever-growing gentrification, as well as the rappers' personal concerns, related to mental health or loss of loved ones. Still, even as some of it gets intensely soul-searching, there's no shortage of confidence on display, and highlights like the mighty Slum Village's "All Day" and "What Up" (featuring 87, One Be Lo, and A Minus) are absolutely triumphant. The album is a testament to the strength of Detroit's hip-hop scene, as well as Apollo Brown's brilliance. ~ Paul Simpson
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 15, 2018 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 26, 2018 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released May 25, 2010 | Mello Music Group

A fast-rising beatmaker from out of Detroit, Apollo Brown introduced his brand of soul-flavored, sample-heavy production on two instrumental albums -- Skilled Trade (2007) and Make Do (2009). Now inducted into the ranks of respected indie rap label Mello Music Group, Brown adds some tweaks and twists to a selection of beats from his archives, pairing them with choice vocals from labelmates such as Kenn Starr, Oddissee, Declaime, and Hassaan Mackey as well as a handful of underground mainstays like Prince Po, Grap Luva, and Big Pooh of Little Brother. The result is an extraordinary hodgepodge of next-level lyricism and impeccable behind-the-boards craftsmanship. Detroit's underground hip-hop scene has received renewed scrutiny in recent years with the passing of J Dilla as well as commendable efforts from Guilty Simpson and Black Milk, among others. What sets Apollo Brown apart is that, unlike some of his Motown brethren who tend to follow Dilla's beatmaking formulas to a T, Apollo Brown shows he can excel at a variety of production styles. And while James Yancey's legacy can be heard at times, it's clear that Brown was raised on the works of East Coast masters like the RZA and DJ Premier. The beats featured on The Reset waffle between brooding slow burners ("Lower the Boom," "Seasons," "Brainwash," "Propa") and soaring, battle-happy headnodders ("Hungry," "Streets Won't Let Me Chill," "Ghetto Soul Music"). Furthermore, he displays a meticulous attention to detail in his programming that's too rare in contemporary hip-hop. Consider how the chunky bassline and crisp drums of "Real Detroit" are given an adrenaline rush with the addition of baseball bat cracks and roaring crowd samples when the chorus drops. Similarly, the jazzy guitar chords and echoing vocals lingering behind "Seasons" provide a haunting backdrop to Kansas-born lyricist Stik Figa's woeful vignettes of his home state. Ultimately, The Reset shows and proves Apollo Brown's mettle as a versatile and highly talented beatsmith while serving as a fine showcase for the Mello Music Group roster. ~ Matt Rinaldi
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 25, 2017 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 30, 2016 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 26, 2011 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 27, 2014 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released May 1, 2012 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 1, 2011 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 26, 2015 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released April 29, 2014 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 16, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 24, 2010 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 6, 2015 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 27, 2017 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 4, 2016 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 1, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 12, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 20, 2016 | Mello Music Group

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Apollo Brown in the magazine