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Simplicity is genius. Great artists can make the ostensibly impossible seem effortless. It’s in this rarefied air where you’ll find Detroit’s Apollo Brown, constantly conjuring fresh innovations out of a tried-and-true formula.

For the last decade, the Mello Music Group artist has singularly re-defined and expanded the foundation of what boom bap production can sound like.

Just consider the revered legends that have collaborated on full-length albums with him: Rass Kass (“Blasphemy”), Guilty Simpson (“Dice Game,”) Skyzoo (“Easy Truth Sessions”), Big Pooh (“Words Paint Pictures”) and O.C. (“Trophies.”) No less than DJ Premier declared the latter “hip-hop for the people,” naming “Trophies” the best album of 2012.

This is the tradition that Apollo Brown triumphantly upholds: the head-nodding, screwface-inducing, soul-replenishing lineage of Primo and Pete Rock, J Dilla and Large Professor, Mobb Deep and DJ Muggs.

He makes music for old and young heads—bone bruising beats that summon visceral images of back alley brawls in ’81, pool hall melees, and metropolitan griminess. An East Coast sound with a midwestern mentality, channelling the marrow-freezing chill of the wind fleeing Lake Michigan.

Everyone from Danny Brown to Chance The Rapper, Freddie Gibbs to Masta Ace, Black Milk to Oddisee have spit bars over his beats. Don’t sleep on his several acclaimed instrumental albums either. Apollo Brown has a body of work that lives up to the legacy of the older gods.

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