Label Profile: Mello Music Group


When people ask me who I’m paying attention to in underground hip-hop, my first answer is “anything from Mello Music Group”. The label was founded in 2007, and has been making a lot of moves particularly in the past 5 years. Literally every project that has released since I’ve been paying attention has been dope. The styles within the label vary, but a couple things that the artists have in common are high standards for lyrical and expressive content, polished vocal and instrumental production, and clear influences from classic forms of underground hip-hop reinterpreted through contemporary stylistic twists.

Below is a mix of some of my favorite MMG tracks for a sample. The track list is at the bottom of the post:

The Latest Playlist: Mello Music Group

The next major Mello Music Group release is a duo of 2 emcees I’ve been following for years now. Open Mike Eagle and Serengeti team up to make the group Cavanaugh. Their project “Time & Materials” will be released November 20th, 2015. Below is the video of their pre-released track “Screen Play”:

A few weeks ago I did a post titled Producer Profile: Apollo Brown. Apollo Brown is one of MMG’s heavy hitting producers, so refer to that post for a longer breakdown of his work. Another key MMG producer is L’Orange, whose speakeasy influenced style uses a wide variety of jazz and blues as well as movie and radio quotes and sound effects. He’s done full collaborative projects w/ Stik Figa, Jeremiah Jae and Kool Keith, several full solo albums, and has made beats for a plethora of emcees on individual tracks. Below is a video of the track “The End” produced by L’Orange featuring Billy Woods:

A classic group developed from 3 Detroit artists in MMG: “Ugly Heroes” consists of  Apollo Brown, Red Pill, and Verbal Kent. Their self-titled debut album dropped in 2013, and has been highly regarded by underground heads. Below is their track “Desperate”:

Another prolific emcee/producer on MMG is Oddisee. Below is a video of one of his hypnotic instrumentals, “After Thoughts”:

Some of the Mello Music Group emcees have a bit more progressive unconventional approach to their content and flow structure.  Artists like Open Mike Eagle, The Black Opera, Quelle Chris, and Castle are a few that come to mind when thinking about MMG emcees that take more alternative approaches in their work. Also see the post Project Profile: Canyonland for a look at Henry Canyons’ latest MMG release.

I didn’t get a chance to speak on everyone in Mello Music Group here, but I highly recommend exploring this label in depth.  Below is the mostly complete MMG roster. Check out for the full MMG Discography.

Oddisee | Apollo Brown | L’Orange | Gensu Dean | 14KT | Def Dee | Red Pill | Quelle Chris | Open Mike Eagle | Mr. Lif | Rapper Big Pooh | yU | Kenn Starr | 7evenThirty | Georgia Anne Muldrow | Verbal Kent | Dudley Perkins | Has-Lo | Jamall Bufford | Substantial | Boog Brown | Castle | Henry Canyons | Hus Kingpin | J Bizness | Uptown XO | Trek Life | Kool Keith | The Black Opera | Ugly Heroes | Diamond District | Cavanaugh | Semi Hendrix | 1978ers

The Latest Playlist: Mello Music Group

Mr. Lif, John Robinson & L’Orange – The Lost Nova | Oddisee – Self Sacrifice
Quelle Chris – Going Swell | 7evenThirty & Gensu Dean – Roach Spray
Quelle Chris – What Up | Trek Life – Street Casualty | Red Pill & Blockhead – Darlin’
L’Orange & Stik Figa feat. Open Mike Eagle – Decorated Silence
The Black Opera – Never Saw It Coming (prod. Arjun Singh & TBO)
OC & Apollo Brown – Angels Sing | L’Orange & Gift of Gab – Circles Around Circles
Def Dee feat. Uptown XO – Errybody Bent

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