It’s been three years since Clouds dropped but now Apollo Brown releasing some new heat that will bring him back into the spotlight. After over two decades of working with the likes of Ghostface, D12, Onyx and more, the Detroit producer has been in the studio working on his next instrumental album, Thirty Eight.
“All I care about is being a good man and making consistent music,” said Brown. With the release of his Cigarette Burns EP, the fans were ready for the different sound and approach that Brown goes for in his upcoming project. Not only does he get into his previous projects, but he also describes his regimen in the studio and shares his first time on stage. The album is available in record shelves across the country now.
The Source: You came out with a unique project at the beginning of the year teaming up with Gensu Dean by recreating his project Abrasions while he recreated Dice Game. Tell me about that experience.
Apollo Brown: It started out when I put out the album with Guilty Simpson. He did an album last year with Planet Asia called Abrasions and it was just one of those things. Producers kinda get jealous of each other like “Yo I’ve always wanted to do an album with Planet Asia” and of course. But I did that album with homie because I wanted to because we’re good friends and it would be dope so why not? But I also wanted to do an album with Planet Asia and on the flipside Gensu Dean always wanted to do an album with Guilty. So it was one of those things where we wanted to knock out two birds with one stone type thing. Shit, let’s just switch places for a second, maybe 5-6 tracks and that’s kinda what the idea was. You take 5-6 tracks off Dice Game and remix it yourself how you envision it. I’ll take 5-6 tracks off Abrasions and remix how I envision it. It gives people an insight into what me and Planet Asia would sound like. It fulfilled a fantasy for the both of us. It’s going to come all together on vinyl soon.
Your EP Cigarette Burns built the hype for Thirty Eight. Was there anything else that went behind that EP?
AB: It was just to build the hype and quench the thirst for the fans. Everything on Cigarette Burns is on Thirty Eight. It just gives people an advanced few tracks man just to keep em satisfied for a couple more weeks. I wanted to give them a taste of what’s going on, the sound, the different sound of Thirty Eight. That’s not my usual sound. I kinda wanted to acclimate them. I like to acclimate and give people a sound they can get used to so that when they do hear the actual product, they’re used to it, they’re ears are ready and they’re cool.
Now that Thirty Eight has dropped, what do you feel that you did different that you haven’t done before with your past work?
AB: It was just a new approach to creating an instrumental album. Three years ago, I put out Clouds and it was a pretty big success, a lot of people loved it. People talk about it all the time. It’s just that they’re always telling me “No you gotta do another instrumental album”. So it’s been three years, I was reluctant so I said “Alright let’s do it. I’ll do another one but I want to approach it differently”. I wanted to approach it in more of a “instrumental/soundtrack” type way. I’m a big fan of OST’s and scores. I just wanted to approach it in a story form. To some people it’s just a collection of beats but to others it’s a backdrop for their everyday life. I always tell people it’s going to the nonexistent story to the soundtrack. It’s going to be uniquely different to every listener. Everyone’s going to have their own story to the soundtrack. Not the soundtrack to go with the story like usual, it’s the story to go with the soundtrack. You’re scoring my soundtrack with your story basically. It’s one of those things where it depends on your mood or your situation at the time and it depends on how you receive the album. It’s unapologetically not for everybody. It’s a niche album, some are going to love it, some are going to hate it. It just depends on how you listen to it.
When you get into the studio, what do you need? What are your necessities?
AB: When I’m in the studio, it just depends on what I’m doing. If I’m making a beat, I like to be by myself. I like that background noise, like Maury or Jerry Springer Whatever bullshit that plays during the day really the low in the background. For some reason I can’t have it totally quiet when I’m making a beat. There has to be something to divert my attention now and again. I definitely like to snack man. Im a chubby guy so I like to snack and have a nice beverage. I’m not a big drinker and I don’t smoke so there’s no weed element when I’m making a beat. I’m a regular, boring cat to be honest with you. Im just so engulfed with the sample or engulfed in the drums. I don’t like making them around people or other people’s input. Now if I’m in the studio with an artist and making a beat like that, it’s a little different. But I’m not a fan of outsiders. Anyone who works with me in the studio knows that I don’t like stragglers, or random people in my studio sessions. I’m there to work.
When you’re there plotting and scheming about your next track, what influences do you fall back on?
AB: I love making life music so I fall back on everyday life. Not just mine but people around me or people I see everyday. Now being from Detroit, there’s a lot of character in this city. I mean you can literally look out the window and just create thoughts to make beats or write rhymes. You walk a block, there’s even more. This city has had a lot of great periods man. When you step out that door, there’s a lot of influence out there.
You’re set to perform with Pharoahe Monch soon. When you’re on the road, what do you put into your shows?
AB: I literally go on the road and play beats. It’s crazy. Who does that? I have a demand for that. I go on the road, I go on stage, I’m DJ’ing but I usually got to play beats. The crazy thing is the people are there for that. People are loving it. I’ll play like an hour set of jut beats and they’re sitting there like “Yo, beats, love it!” Myself I love listening to beats but I also love hearing vocal sets. After New York, I’ll be hitting up Australia just to play beats and DJ. It’s dope.
What was your first experience on stage?
AB: Man, I’ve always had stage fright all my life so it’s a big reason why I’m a background guy. Everybody wanted to be a rapper but me, there was no way I could take a mic, go on stage and remember lyrics and recite them to a crowd of people that I don’t know. I used to have stage fright so I had to loose before hitting the stage. I was doing Red Bull beat battles a lot, doing beat battles from 07-09. It really took a lot for me to get on stage. But once I get on stage and I play the first beat and the crowd hears the first drum or that first drop, and I see their face. Anyone can bob their head to the beat, but it’s the facial reaction. You play that gritty beat and you look at the crowd’s face and it scrunches up and they like “ohhh”, that’s when I lose all stage fright. I’m ready, let’s do this. I don’t get nervous now but that first time though.
Tony Centeno (@_tonyMC)