November AOTM : Apollo Brown – Sincerely Detroit

 

 

As the landscape in Rap has changed over the last 5 years I’ve stuck to what I know. The exception has been the ever consistent ‘Mello Music Group’ and their pillar producer Apollo Brown. Over recent years he has partnered with the likes of Ghostface Killah, Planet Asia, Ras Kass, Rapper Bog Pooh and Joell Ortiz among others. His boom bap soul filled Detroit sound has not only re-invigorated many MC’s careers but has also has owned much of my listening time.

 

Apollo Brown’s latest effort perhaps is his most challenging and best executed to date. Encompassing 59 Detroit MC’s his ‘Sincerely Detroit’ is a love letter to a city of sorts and showcases the depth of MC pedigree that the city has to offer. Through 21 tracks you feel the love and pain that the currently ran down and trying City of Detroit brings on a daily basis with Apollo perfectly pasting together an onslaught of head nodding beats.

 

Brown’s MC’s combination on first glance is un-expected but work well. Tying up Nolan The Ninja and Dopehead on ‘Skimmin’ shouldn’t work but it does. Whilst teaming up Guilty Simpson and Fat Ray on ‘The Backbone’ seems like a life long partnership.

 

Detroit heavy hitters Royce 5’9, Guilty Simpson and Slum Village all deliver lyrically but don’t over shadow the rest. At one moment you’re blown away by Paradime on  ‘Never’ or the smooth bars from Boog Brown. I admit that 21 tracks can seems allot in the days of EP’s and short albums but the further I get into this album I struggle to find a track that I would drop.

 

Why do I love this album? It’s pure hop hop, it’s boom bap, and conveys the honesty that I struggle to find in hip hop these days. It reminds me of the hip hop I fell in love with in the late 90’s when I bought decks and hunted for raw underground hip hop.

 

Being mindful that this may move you away from your hip hop comfort zone I encourage you to spend some time with this album, it’s worth the investment.

6 comments

  1. David Allison

    I am REALLY enjoying this. I haven’t yet spent enough time with it to dive deep, but actually, I’m finding it a really easy listen, it slips down really nicely. The beats feel really classic – remind me of golden era Mos Def or Gang Starr. The whole thing has got a Dilla vibe, and you can’t say better than that.

    It is of course WAY too long (why can’t rap artists use the goddamn self-edit facility) and the number of guest artists is bewildering, particularly because this middle-aged lapsed hip-hop fan hasn’t heard of hardly any of them. But this is a great listen. Ta Nolan!

  2. David Allison

    So. I think this is really good album. I’ve had on a fair bit, and it slips down really nicely. I like the really classic vibe of it, particularly all the soul samples, which as I said in the early post reminds me so much of Black on Both Sides and Jazzmatazz.

    However, there is something that’s stopped from me engaging with it fully, and I’m trying to work out what it is. I think it’s a mixture of things – one is that I listen less hip hop than I used to and, as we’ve discussed before, it’s a habit you’ve got to keep up or the music suddenly sounds too dense to spend time with. What I’ve found with this is that I’ve stuck it on and really enjoyed it, without probably really digging down that deep into it. There are a lot of good tracks on it – Thoughts In Mind, God Help Me and Oh Lord are all brilliant. But there is a lot that sounds both very familiar and quite similar.

    And that brings me back to the length issue. It’s just too flipping long. 21 tracks many of them coming in at 4 mins plus, is too much. Unless you’re making the White Album or doing something really radical, you need an edit button. I think I would have enjoyed the best 10 or 12 tracks of this SO much more. Like, it would have an absolute KILLER album. I’ve even thought of making a playlist of my favourites so it feels more digestible. Hey, at least there aren’t a load of terrible skits!

    All in all, it’s really enjoyable and I’m digging it. So thank you, Brother Nolan for bringing it our way.

  3. misterstory

    Hi. Sorry. Etc. I still love you and the blog. It’s not you, it’s definitely me.

    So great choice Nolan. I think it’s probably a perfect balance of challenge / accessible. And it is is accessible. I’ve had it on a surprising amount given the genre. I find it difficult to work to hip hop but this I can have on quite happily … not sure if this is a good thing though?

    It’s so Gang Starr. SO! much so. And I think I like that. Given it’s a ‘various artists’ LP it hangs together really well. It feels like an artist album and I guess it is and the artist is Mr. Brown. I’ve frequently bitched about rap artists albums not hanging together due up the fact that they have different production on each track. Does this collection suggest the producers vision is more powerful than the lyricist?

    Can you feel a but coming? …

    … but … it’s SO long. 21 tracks, really? Most are good some a great, some do feel a little ‘filler’? Could this have been a 12-15 track storming, tight album?

    Perhaps I’m struggling with the length as I’ve not listened to it enough to become 100% familiar with … but this in part due to its length. (yes I know Ghosteen was longer so appreciate the contradiction in my comments).

    Anyways, if the biggest beef is there’s too many tracks that’s pretty good going.

    Thank you Nolan. Great choice. I’m glad I have this in my life.

  4. whyohwhyohwhy

    Yo. Sorry, another month, another late response. I think I’d echo Joey and David here quite a bit brother Nolan. And I say this as probably the least ‘hip hop’ of all of you guys. I love it, but I really don’t listen enough (and probably that’s because it’s behind dance, pop, indie etc).

    The first thing to say is: it’s a really accessible album. I only know of Apollo in passing, and I have NO IDEA who anyone on this album is, but I guess that’s the point. And mostly, it doesn’t matter. Because the beats and samples and hooks are GREAT and the flows are brilliant too. It all is very listenable from the start, and in some ways, it doesn’t really bother me who’s on it or not. Yes, the flip side of this is that you don’t get a real flow through the songs, and you don’t feel there’s a lot of lyrical consistency, but in the circumstances given how little modern hip hop I listen to it isn’t going to be something that bothers me.

    The other flip is that not a lot of tracks stand out, partly because I’m not always listening just to the album (I’m walking, shopping, commuting) and also because it’s so long that I’m never really listening to it in one go. I’m with David and Joey on this. It’s daftly long, so long that you can never really – with our lives – listen to the lot in one go. So its accessibility is good, but it’s so long (a good 5-10 tracks too long) that you never really get to stand back and face the lot.

    BUT….. it’s definitely enjoyable. The question I ask myself is: will i be listening to this in 6 months? A year? I’d say – like plenty of other good albums such as Anderson Paak, Moses Sumney, and things I bought like the Compton soundtrack…… – probably not. But then these, as they say, are the breaks.

  5. nolankane706

    I agree with the amount of tracks on this album. II hesitated on picking it for that reason. I do recommend you getting stuck into some of Apollo’s Brown’s other albums. In fact I’ve created a playlist so you can dabble with him a bit more if you fancy?

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