In 2010, Apollo Brown established himself as a producer to know, releasing an album with The Left, another with Boog Brown, and The Reset, a solo album full of guest emcees. While we’re currently seeing a new generation of hip hop arising in Detroit, Brown is firmly staking his claim as one of the premier beat makers. On Clouds, Brown builds an instrumental album that shifts gears from his work in 2010, giving us a peaceful meditative experience.

Clouds opens on a quiet note, which is not what I was expecting from a track called “The Sound of Guns,” but it does usher us into the album nicely. The music moves slowly, but for the patient listener, the rewards are great. The soundscape is gentle and dream-like, with a warm soulfulness to it. While there are 27 tracks clocking in at over fifty minutes, I often found myself lost in the album, only realizing toward the end of the album that I had been sitting and listening for so long. It’s unfair to Brown to put him in direct dialogue with J Dilla, as he’s obviously doing his own thing here, but I’d like to think of Clouds as a nice companion to Donuts. This is mainly to express that I feel that when I listen to Brown’s album, I am moved by beauty and warmth in the same way I am when I listen to Dilla.

After giving us albums last year that made us get up and dance to some funky grooves, I’m thrilled to get such an introspective album out of Brown. If we’ve gotten this much high quality work out of him already, I can’t wait for what the future holds.