Apollo Brown On Working W/ Ghostface Killah + Ugly Heroes [The Okayplayer Interview]
Apollo Brown is back for more. Only a year removed from releasing two critically adored albums, the Detroit producer returns with not one but TWO new albums that are sure to continue his long-running winning stream. After working with the likes of O.C. and Guilty Simpson in 2012, he’s continued to work with hip-hop heavyweights with the release of his alternate version of Ghostface Killah’s “12 Reasons to Die.” The Brown Tape was originally issued only on cassette, but will get a full release in June. The Brown Tape–which Brown called the most challenging project he’s ever worked on–offers a more traditional sounding hip-hop album that stands nicely alongside Adrian Younge’s lush, orchestral version on the original.
Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Brown has also assembled a Little Brother-type group called Ugly Heroes, which consists of himself and two MCs – Detroit’s Red Pill and Chicago’s Verbal Kent. Brown said he wanted to do a project with two up-and-coming rapper–and also that he personally feels the album is among his best work.
Okayplayer got a chance to chat with the Mello Music Group producer about the reaction to his two big LPs he released in 2012, how he landed the opportunity to work with Ghostface, the myth of an ugly hero, his tenth album and more. Read on, player (and hit the links below to cop Ugly Heroes, which dropped today).
Okayplayer: Last year you had a couple of highly acclaimed albums (“Trophies” and “Dice Game”), do you think those releases put you more in the spotlight?
Apollo Brown: Yeah I would probably say so, doing a big release with O.C. and a big release with Guilty Simpson. I think I was already in the spotlight, but I think those kind of solidified my place in the game, especially dropping those two in the same year. And also getting critical acclaim and certain accolades like being number one of DJ Premier’s top (albums) list of the year.
OKP: You just dropped that remix album for Ghostface Killah’s 12 Reasons to Die, how did you get involved with that album?
AB: That’s the thing man, it’s not a remix album. Everybody thinks it’s a remix album, but when I did the album, it’s actually an official album. When I did the album, I didn’t even hear the original yet. It’s considered another version – an alternate version of the album. I basically created all of the beats around the words. Like most people do the opposite, you know spitting to the beats. Basically I’m making the beats around the words, and it was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done because of the bar structure and the arrangements. It was crazy to do.
It’s definitely not a remix album. It’s just another version – the cassette tape version. It was crazy, making that album was one of the most difficult things ever. It came out good; people love it. I got a phone call one day from Soul Temple (Records), and they’ve enjoyed my music over the past few years, they thought I could be the perfect producer to complement Adrian Younge and come up with an alternate version. I took as a compliment because I’m a big fan of Adrian Younge and obviously a big fan of Ghost. I was just like, let’s do it man, and they gave me a short amount of time to get it done.
I didn’t hear the original version until after it came out, so it was interesting to hear his take on it, versus my own and it’s completely different. I think it was a good thing for the Ghost project.
OKP: Do you think that will open up opportunities to work with Ghost some more or other Wu-Tang members?