Ghostface Killah & Apollo Brown – 12 Reasons to Die: The Brown Tape album review

12 Reasons to Die: The Brown Tape is advertised as an “alternate version” of the original album produced by Adrian Younge. At this point, Apollo Brown already deserves a ton of credit for even thinking of remixing 12 Reasons to Die, one of the most impressive underground releases in recent memory. It’s a daunting project if you think about it. First of all, the source material is a concept album, so any good remix will have to retain the story and tone. This is a dark one about an immortal crime boss by the name of Ghostface Killah.

The original is an absolute juggernaut sonically, and the instrumental version is a classic in its own right. Inspired by 70’s R&B and Italian soundtracks from the same era, 12 Reasons to Die was meticulously recorded in Younge’s all-analog, vintage studio. The entire production features live instmentation by Adrian Younge and his Venice Dawn band. The bar is very high here for Detroit Producer Apollo Brown, who was tapped to remix this behemoth. 12 Reasons to Die: The Brown Tape was packaged as an actual cassette tape to go with the initial release of 12 Reasons to Die on vinyl back in April. Copies of this tape were scarce, but Wu-Tang affiliated Soul Temple, the imprint that released 12 Reasons to Die, has given the Apollo Brown remix its own full release, complete with a set of instrumentals.

Apollo Brown has earned this opportunity recognition. He’s built a reputation as an exceptionally consistent producer, and an absolute beast on a remix. When Apollo Brown first signed with his label Mello Music Group, the first thing they did was give him the keys to their extensive library of rap acapellas. For his label debut, Apollo Brown dropped “The Reset,” a whole album of remixes that make you forget you ever heard the original.

On The Brown Tape, Apollo Brown’s alternate takes are brilliant, and completely depart from Adrian Younge’s vision. Check out how Apollo Brown swaps Younge’s spitfire organ for a brooding sample of hazy keyboards and guitar stabs on “Rise Of The Black Suits.” There’s a very different vibe that still works perfectly for the track. Apollo Brown channels a little Alchemist with a searing guitar sample on “Enemies All Around Me.” Go to track 6 right now. “Crying.” For you! Crying for you love this album. Apollo’s samples are melodic, sweet and forlorn; they plead where Adrian Younge is ethereal. Cut tape, and Apollo Brown has actually managed to add layers to the story. The comic-book vibe of 12 Reasons to Die is swapped out for a gutsy, but by no means lo-fi treatment by Apollo Brown, the newest producer to your radar. Check out 12 Reasons to Die: The Brown Tape.

Ghostface Killah & Apollo Brown - 12 Reasons to Die: The Brown Tape


O.C. and Apollo Brown- Trophies album review

A decade ago the hip hop scene was littered with beefs, disagreement and animosity between artists. Fast forward to the present and the hip hop world seems to be coming together in harmony with more and more duo albums and collaborations coming out. Detroit producer Apollo Brown and Brooklyn rapper O.C., have come together in unison and put out the joint album Trophies.

Trophies is sixteen tracks of straight hip hop with no chaser. “Prove Me Wrong” provides vintage bass lines with just enough sounds of the keyboard to create a beat that nestles itself inside of your ear, along with O.C.’s gritty voice spouting off lyrics explaining reasoning behind his tough persona. “Been havin’ a walker since British walkers/ Way before Obama would start to be in office/Lost friends to jail and some dead in a coffin.”

Apollo Brown’s production on “Anotha One” is equivalent to lyrical butter, and serves as O.C.’s ode to his favorite green plant. Where there are plenty of tracks that have a relaxing aura to them, the duo shows that they can bring the heat with hard hitting tracks like the bass-heavy track, Disclaimer.

O.C. shows why no features were needed on Trophies by showing his versatility in his delivery can go from melancholy in the intergalactic track “Angel’s Sing” to soothing in “The Formula,” to downright unapologetic and harsh in “People’s Champ.” Where other artists would need features to create a well-rounded album, O.C. is able to do this all by himself. Seasoned rappers are a thing to cherish.

Although Apollo Brown and O.C. have produced what sounds like a classic, the album can get monotonous at times. Apollo Brown’s loop-heavy style of production does get weary on the ear by the last tracks, but where this may seem like flaw, you will notice that the repetitiveness of the beats will keep your head nodding through the album’s entirety.

OC’s smooth delivery of his lyrics coupled with Apollo Brown’s soulful beats are what makes this album great. Trophies proves to be a two-man show that delivers a treat for the ear drums and the mind. Hopefully, these album collaborations are a trend that is here to stay.