(Click Cover To Pre-Order “CLOUDS”, Dropping March 1st)
The Detroit hip-hop scene propelled itself even further in 2010 thanks to resident producer Apollo Brown, who dropped several projects either as a solo artist or as a collaborator. Whether it was his solo “compilation” project, “The Reset” (Click HERE to read our review), to his fantastic outing alongside Journalist 103 and DJ Soko as The Left, “Gas Mask” (DITTO), Brown showcased a knack for crafting beats that ran the gamut from gritty and grimy to airy and soothing. With his first project of 2011 “CLOUDS”, Apollo has pieced together a project that showcases his true range as a producer.
As aggressive as the production on the “Gas Mask” was/is (with the exception of a few cuts, namely “The Melody”), “Clouds” unveils more somber, yet elegant production from Brown. It’s only customary that the backdrop to the John Robinson & Kenn Starr featured “Balance” (originally found on “The Reset”) also finds a home on “Clouds” (the only track that we’ve already heard thus far), as the overall vibe and feel of “Balance” blends seamlessly amongst this airy, hypnotic, 52-minute journey. Timing is everything, and “Clouds” with a March 1st release date, is the perfect “Spring” LP, just as “Gas Mask” was suited for the Champion hoodies and Timberland boots of the chilly Winter months. Timing is indeed everything!
Quite possibly, Brown’s most complete solo work to date, “Clouds” is perfectly suited for the early spring months (good call Mello Music Group!!) as tracks such as the wailing “Blue Ruby” make good listening for the perfect Sunday evening cruise with your lady friend. While the follow-up to “Blue Ruby”, “Never In A Million Years” is fueled by an echoing horn loop and as a whole, the track possesses it’s own anthemic qualities. “Heirloom” will have you reminiscing of Nas’ more finer lyrical moments and the guitar lick that fuels the track will instantly recall “Affirmative Action” from Nas’ sophomore LP, “It Was Written”.
A very emotive LP, Apollo has taken a giant leap from the days of his debut instrumental LPs “Skilled Trade” and “Make Do” with “Clouds”. Realistically, it may seem as if Bloggerhouse, or myself in general, has become quite the Apollo “Stan”. Yet, it’s tough to knock dude as he’s seemingly crafted an LP with emotion, depth and soul that dives even deeper into Apollo’s crates. Quite honestly, I didn’t know dude had it in him! “Clouds” is a grown man’s LP, not a “beat tape”, an LP. Linked together by samples that recall traditional R & B jams (see: “Bridge Through Time” and “Imagination”) to the new psychedelic faze that Apollo has unveiled (think: Jaisu) on “Shadows of Grief” and “Push”, Apollo has layered “Clouds” with a little bit of everything from the jam that will become your girlfriend’s new favorite, while also keeping the hardrocks content with gems such as “Drinking Life”. And the Pharcyde – sampled (“She can be my broad/And I can be her..”) “Shoot The Heart” would have sounded extra nice on a day such as Valentine’s Day.
Void of any wastage or evident fodder, “CLOUDS” is a definite must cop, even if the early months of 2011 has, save for a few, lacked any true heavy-hitters (Clan Destined and IMAKEMADBEATS not included), “CLOUDS” is destined to be an instrumental opus that is gonna’ be hard to top in 2011. However, it will be interesting to see if any of the tracks inclusive on this LP will re-emerge with your favorite emcee atop the soul-stirring backdrops courtesy of one of the best to do for 2010 and beyond.