Biased? Ehh..maybe so? Being that I’ve been bumpin’ the Left’s (Apollo on the beats, Journalist 103 on the rhymes and DJ Soko on the cuts) “Gas Mask” for nearly six months in succession, Apollo’s forthcoming LP, “The Reset” has a lot to measure up to, being that the “Gas Mask” has quickly elevated itself to classic status. So it’s a safe bet to say that “The Reset” has strike one against it already, in terms of an objective review from this “blogger”, as I thought to myself: “Yeah, this album will be iight, but nothing like the “Gas Mask” or hell, even “Make Do” (Apollo’s prior instrumental LP) for that matter. Well, my assumption is very accurate, “The Reset” is nothing at all like “Gas Mask”, so I’ll immediately put the comparisons to rest. Good thing for Apollo, being that he also has albums in the works with Boog Brown (“Brown Study” ) and Hasaan Mackey (“Daily Bread”) as well as a pending winter release for the “Gas Mask”, the variance in production between albums showcases Apollo’s talent as one of the finest beatmakers in the game as we speak. Think I”m kiddin’, with today’s leak of the “Brainwash” remix (f. yU, Grap Luva & Finale) blowin’ up my Twitter time-line, it’s great to know that cats are finally taking notice as to what we’ve been raving about for nearly two years. Plus, when “The Reset” finally drops on May 25th, Apollo Brown will certainly be a household name, mentioned amongst the Just Blaze’s, 14KT’s, etc as one of the most dynamic producers out there.
To pull off an album such as “The Reset” was no small task. Think about it, how often do you see and hear albums that seem to follow the same blueprint that “The Reset” does. The formula is fairly simple; let’s get a dope producer, throw some cats on his beats, preferably label mates and we’ll also throw a few “remixes” in there for good measure. Well, let’s do the math: dope producer=Apollo Brown (check), labelmates on beats=yU, Finale, Oddisee, Declaime, Kenn Star, etc. (check) and finally a remix on two (see: “Brainwash”, check!). Sounds simple enough, right? Well, not always, I could run off a list of “failed” attempts at collaborative albums or producer showcases, but I’ll spare you.
So, what’s the verdict? To be very blunt and honest, Pete Rock couldn’t pull off an album like this (“The Reset”) with either of his “Soul Survivor” efforts, and that’s a pretty hefty statement coming from me as I love the first “Soul Survivor” jawn! It may be pure coincidence that the Intro joint (“Our Time”) repeatedly utters the statement: “The time for us is now..”, because that is EXACTLY what’s goin’ down right about now. Apollo Brown’s “The Reset” is almost void of any fodder or wastage, although I really couldn’t get into “Get Up” simply on the basis of the Declaime inclusion (sorry ya’ll but Dudley is just one cat that may not be wack, but lyrically and more specifically his “delivery” just aren’t my cup of tea). It’s a rarity when you can put an album in the Ipod on repeat for hours, and when it’s a producer album with emcee features (collaborative? instrumental lp? whatever..) most times the album isn’t a very cohesive blend of talents. Yet, “The Reset” is just that, cats such as Oddisee, Buff 1, Finale, Kenn Starr and The Regiment (stop sleepin’) sound at home atop Apollo’s masterful soundscapes. And after mini-hiatuses it was great to hear Magestik Legend (“Brag Language” and “Just Think”, one of my favorites from the LP) and M.E.D. (“Turn and Run”) back to their old habits. Still, it’s the rolling drums (those DAMN drums!) of the “Brainwash” remix that has me reaching for the “rewind” button over and over again.
Most noticeably, it’s Apollo who seems to have invested even more into the production aspect of the LP, more so than his prior efforts (“Skilled Trade”, Make Do”). Let me expound, when I first received the advance of “The Reset” I was expecting to hear the roster of emcees simply spitting over old Apollo beats from both “Skilled Trade” and “Make Do”. Not that it would be an issue, as both of the aforementioned instrumental LPs are amongst the best released over the last few years, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear the “growth” within Apollo’s production. I didn’t hear production that resembles “Just Think”, “Brainwash” or “Brag Language” on “Gas Mask”, rightfully so as “Gas Mask” is indeed a harder album. You’ll hear “Real Detroit” a teaser from “Gas Mask” on “The Reset”, now multiply the grittiness of “Real Detroit” by 14 and you have “Gas Mask”, hence a pending winter release, it’s only right!
Go ahead and throw “The Reset” up there amongst the likes of Roc Marc’s “Marcberg” and the Heart & Brain’s “Mbodiment” as one of the finer releases of 2010 (on a side note, anyone else bumpin’ the hell outta’ Leonard Dstroy’s “Higher Vibrations” like I am?) and I’m actually excited for Apollo to see how well the album is received. We’ve documented Apollo’s growth from “Skilled Trade” to “Make Do” to “Gas Mask” and “The Reset” and his work ethic is admirable, and with the releases with Boog Brown and Hasaan Mackey right around the corner, is it a safe to say “09 was yours, 2010 is his?”. I’ll bet the ranch on it, pick up this album when it drops May 25th!!!