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Rap/Hip-Hop - To be released February 21, 2020 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - To be released January 31, 2020 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 22, 2020 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 16, 2020 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 9, 2020 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released December 3, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 15, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 30, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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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 October 22, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 18, 2019 | Mello Music Group

On the Mello Music Group-issued 2019 full-length Dusty, Homeboy Sandman reunites with producer Mono en Stereo (previously known as RTNC), who provided beats for some of the rapper's earlier releases for Stones Throw, such as First of a Living Breed and Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent. Constructed from laid-back, ambling jazz and funk grooves, the tracks provide warm, lived-in backdrops for Sandman's distinctive brand of conversational, matter-of-fact rhymes. As ever, the Queens native is particularly gifted at delivering deep, articulate thoughts as well as seemingly tossed-off non sequiturs at a rapid pace, but more often than not he keeps a calm-headed demeanor, and he never sounds scatter-brained or unfocused. "Far Out" darts from a chorus invoking interstellar travel to a reminiscence about childhood Halloween, yet Sandman seems parked in his easy chair. In the spirit of A Tribe Called Quest's "What?," "Wondering Why" proposes a sequence of eternal questions such as "Why do men have nipples?," while "Noteworthy" similarly ponders why people consider apples and oranges to be so different. A few tracks at the album's center focus on sexuality, with "Picture on the Wall" being a witty, compassionate ode to a healthy relationship, and "Pussy" detailing his carnal appetite, but in a respectful, consensual way. The more unhinged "Lookout" boasts guest freestyles from Quelle Chris and Your Old Droog over winding synth-funk, and the three emcees display enough energy and charisma that the track seems like an extended posse cut, when it actually wraps up in less than three minutes. Dusty is another winning set of pointed observations from Sandman, who effortlessly unloads his thoughts without seeming like a burden on the listener. ~ Paul Simpson
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 16, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 15, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 8, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 7, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 4, 2019 | 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 24, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 20, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 17, 2019 | Mello Music Group

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Mello Music Group in the magazine