Label Profile: Mello Music Group

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http://www.mellomusicgroup.com

https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com

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 https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com 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

Project Profile: so the flies don’t come

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http://miloraps.bandcamp.com/album/so-the-flies-dont-come

milo: so the flies don’t come

Release Date: September 25, 2015

Produced by Kenny Segal

The album I’ve been playing on repeat the past few weeks is Milo’s so the flies don’t come. Kenny Segal’s production is on point and melds beautifully with milo’s mic presence, which is the strongest it’s been. The instrumentals have an experimental synthetic smooth jazz feel that fits milo’s style perfectly. Milo has some of the most layered and abstracted lyrics in hip hop and this project seems to be his most personally revealing approach, showing the listeners a clearer picture of his concerns and perspectives.

Here’s the song that was released a few weeks before the album called Zen Scientist, with Myka 9 harmonizing on the chorus:

Zen Scientist feat. Myka 9

Each track opens a new window to milo’s psyche and follows a style that bounces in and out of genuine and sarcastic while displaying a mastery of figurative language in exceptional rhyme format.

As a big fan of wordplay, there is a section of the song below “an encyclopedia” that is incredibly satisfying to hear, and even more so to memorize (1:42 – 1:57):

Milo last seen with a poor sport, with more ass, got a passport to import more for the war stash, short leash, long lash, Long Beach, with Bombast, I palm palm trees in my thought path. This is a mason jar containing a last laugh. (Followed my a menacing laugh in the background)

an encyclopedia

Features for this project include Hemlock Ernst, Myka 9, Open Mike Eagle, and Elucid. Below is a beautiful track featuring Elucid titled “going no place”:

One of my favorite tracks of the project is “song about a raygunn (an ode to Driver)”, which is a heartfelt tribute to his friend and mentor Busdriver, which can be seen in the last post from The Mic is the Message “The Latest Playlist: September 2015”, track 3.

For a more in depth review of the album, I recommend checking out the video below with Anthony Fantano of theneedledrop.com. I feel he really nailed it as usual.

Producer Profile: Apollo Brown

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https://apollobrown.bandcamp.com

http://www.mellomusicgroup.com/pages/apollo-brown

Over the past 5 years Apollo Brown has been consistently showing us why he is one of the dopest beat makers out today. Currently signed under Mello Music Group, the Detroit-based producer is playing a significant role in the current sound of underground hip hop. His catalog is extensive with 7 solo albums and 11 albums collaborating with emcees including The Left, Boog Brown, Hassaan Mackey, UllNevaNo, O.C., Guilty Simpson, Verbal Kent & Red Pill, Planet Asia, Ras Kass & Rapper Big Pooh.

“Never In a Million Years” from his 2011 solo album Clouds Instrumentals:

Trophies (2012) w/ O.C. – “Signs”:

Apollo Brown discusses hip hop in Detroit / Dice Game (2012) w/ Guilty Simpson – “I Can Do No Wrong”:

Ugly Heroes (Verbal Kent, Red Pill, Apollo Brown) (2013) – “God’s Day Off”:

Thirty Eight (2014) – “Cleo’s Apartment”:

Blasphemy (2014) w/ Ras Kass – “H20”:

Brown’s next album “Grandeur” is scheduled for release Sept. 25, 2015 and is a 19 track feature album. Here’s one of the pre-released tracks featuring Your Old Droog “Not That Guy”: