Five years ago the Detroit rap scene was in shambles: Dilla and Proof had passed away, Obie Trice was shot, Royce da 5’9” was in jail and Eminem was absent as battled drug addiction. Shortly after those rough times, several new rappers and producers started to emerge from Detroit’s underground. One of Detroit’s top up-and-coming beat makers, Apollo Brown had a big 2010 with a compilation album titled The Reset and Gas Mask as one-third of The Left. He continues his production hot-streak with the 27-track instrumental album, Clouds.
Much like most of Detroit’s top beat miners, Brown’s productions are equipped with gritty, head banging drums and top-notch sample selections. Besides being instant neck-snappers, a lot of the beats on Clouds are very moody and atmospheric. “Choices” is one of the standout tracks, with slow strings and a haunting vocal sample. While vocal samples aren’t used that often on the album, when they are, it is very effective. “Shoot the Heart” borrows a line from Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” over the beautifully spaced out beat.
Brown does a nice job of keeping the record from being too monotonous by throwing in a drumless, almost interlude-type track after every five or so tracks. These tracks, especially the intro “Sound of Guns” and “A Conscious Breath” are some of more musical and beautiful moments on the record. And they give the listener’s neck a much-needed break after listening to banger after banger.
Clouds is full of top-notch beats that I could picture any number of rappers on. I haven’t heard the name Apollo Brown too much before listening to this record, but that should definitely change after the release of this beat tape.