The son of Sudanese and American parents, Amir Mohamed was born and raised in the United States capital city of Washington DC, spending hot summers in Khartoum learning Arabic and swimming in the Nile. Growing up amidst the sounds of New York hip hop, his father playing Oud, Go-Go, and gospel, Amir took his first steps as an MC producer in the analog basement studio of his legendary neighbor, Garry Shider (Parliament Funkadelic).
Convincing his entrepreneurial father that he too had business acumen, Amir laid the check from his first commercial release on the kitchen table before his 21st birthday and never looked back. Though Oddisee has gone on to perform with The Roots, produce for Freeway, Jazzy Jeff, Little Brother, De La Soul & Nikki Jean, and has MC'd on production from Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke and Kev Brown, his proudest moment was the birth of his critically acclaimed group Diamond District with fellow Washingtonians X.O. and yU.
Known in the music industry for his independence, Oddisee consistently debunks the scatterbrained artist myth - doing everything from booking international tours to photography to marketing and promoting himself and even other artists. He now works as both artist and consultant with Mello Music Group, one of the foremost emerging independent labels to take advantage of the digital revolution to build a successful business.
Oddisee's debut solo album "People Hear What They See" is a culmination of the duality of his life experiences, from DC internal politics to third world struggles, the line between love and selfishness, and the personal conflict between self-sabotage and progress, set to a backdrop of intricate drums, lush instrumentation, and soul-stirring harmonies.
Apollo Brown is different than most producers. He grew up on the Seals and Crofts-not the Isley Brothers-version of "Summer Breeze." Born into a bi-racial family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his early influences skewed more toward the music of Journey and The Carpenters than the urban genres his peers often cite as inspiration. This is not to say that once hip-hop came into play, Apollo wasn't all in. Just as easily as he can praise the virtues of yacht rock, the 29-year-old beatsmith can name personal heroes-Gang Starr, Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, M.O.P., Nas, and Black Moon-from the early 90s period in which, for him, beats and rhymes became life.
Apollo began making his own music in 1996 using now-archaic Voyetra audio software, then upgraded to Cool Edit 2000 in becoming a self-described bedroom beat-maker for roughly the next eight years. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in business administration, he moved to the west side of Detroit and immersed himself in the local hip-hop community, forming the Black Day in July production crew with high school classmate and Wu-Tang affiliate Bronze Nazareth. When the pair branched off into individual work, Apollo relocated to the east side of the Motor City and continued to build before becoming disenchanted with music and stepping away from production for two years.
It was the mid-2000s, and the upstart producer saw no future for his work- work he had dedicated his life to -in an industry where radio was setting a formulaic pattern for mainstream music. But he eventually began to miss the creativity in his craft and began producing once again, releasing the instrumental albums Skilled Trade (2007) and Make Do (2009). Apollo was soon in high demand, collaborating with Detroiters Finale, MaGestiK LeGenD, Danny Brown, Paradime, and Kam Moye aka Supastition. He went on in 2009 to win the Detroit Red Bull Big Tune Championships and competed in the national finals. Apollo then signed as a producer with the Mello Music Group in December of 2009, just a week after signing, he was laid off from his job.
"Beautiful," was Apollo's reaction, as he viewed the layoff as a blessing and prepared for what he terms his "one-year plan." Things started off with The Reset, a series of reworked tracks in true remix tradition, with new music and arrangements for verses by Rapper Big Pooh of Little Brother, Black Milk, MED, Grap Luva, labelmates Kenn Starr, Oddisee and Diamond District, along with a host of others. Next up was Brown Study (Lp) with Boog Brown which features Miz Korona, Invincible, Kam Moye, and Kenn Starr. When the long-awaited Gas Mask LP (The Left) took the stage in late October 2010 Apollo cemented his place as one of the games best new producers. Then early in 2011 Apollo released his first MMG instrumental album, Clouds, and dominated best of lists at the end of the year. 2011 also saw the release of the album from Daily Bread with Rochester, New York MC Hassaan Mackey. After taking just under a year off to create a new masterpiece, Apollo released his biggest album to date with the legendary OC of DITC entitled "Trophies". The internet again became abuzz with talk of album of the year. Never one to rest on his laurels, Apollo spent the next 7 months both campaigning for "Trophies" and putting together another album Motor City compatriot Guilty Simpson. The result of his intense immersion in his work was yet another year with two albums ("Dice Game" and "Trophies") ending up on people's Best of 2012 lists. Since then Apollo has become one of Hip-Hop's go to producers having created Ghostface Killah (of Wu-Tang Clan) album "The Brown Tape," a group album with Ugly Heroes,
Apollo's credo is simple: "Everything I make, I try to make it my favorite album of all time."
Dedicated to originality, L'Orange imbues his smoky, soul-soaked tracks with lush texture through inventive mixing and psychedelic cuts from classic radio recordings. A shopworn MPC and vintage vinyl are essentially paintbrush and palette for L'Orange. He finds his signature samples from pre-1950s jazz, soul and radio. He stitches together a sound that acknowledges his penchant for classic film noir and shadowy motifs.
Quelle Chris is from Michigan. He doesn't speak much about his childhood other than to recount stories of his younger brother, talented rhymer MoseL, or to describe his uncanny ability to imitate people starting from a young age. It was through MoseL that Quelle first got his hands on a simple drum machine, setting Quelle on his path. Michigan's small-scale scene gave Quelle the opportunity to meet and work with an impressive group of artistic talent, and it didn't take long for an older head to notice Quelle's growing potential. Goose, an MC formerly of the chronically underrated Detroit group Wasted Youth, met Quelle as a high schooler, and instantly saw something Quelle from a young age. While he initially concentrated on music production, Quelle decided to take rhyming seriously, urged by his Wasted Youth Family.
After high school, Quelle relocated to Chicago with his brother MoseL, where he attended art school, which never became a good fit for the young MC and producer. Nonetheless, Quelle came into himself and quickly realized that his style was anything but conventional. So, stifled by the constraints of academia, Quelle left art school after one year. What followed was an era of bold experimentation and tremendous personal and musical growth. During this time he recorded music that would later be organized as Blue Mondays, a bittersweet and emotional project, packed with raw loops and hard-hitting rhymes. The project began to gather steam through word of mouth and eventually catching the ear of DJ House Shoes, an immediate advocate for Quelle's music. A fire in his Chicago residence destroyed much of the music that never found a place on Blue Mondays and without looking back, Quelle hit the road again, this time settling in Oakland, CA.
Beginning with his time in Oakland, the world began to take notice of Quelle Chris. In 2010 Quelle released the House Shoes presents... Blue Mondays/Slut Bag Edition 12", in conjunction with the DJ who first took an interest in Quelle's rhymes. Combining select cuts from Blue Mondays with tracks from Crown Nation, a trio of Quelle, his brother MoseL and longtime friend Denmark Vessey. The vinyl records were packaged in blank sleeve that Quelle customized with hand-drawn cartoon characters. Each copy contains unique original artwork from Quelle himself. This album would serve as an appetizer for Quelle's heavy hitting 2011follow up Shotgun and Sleek Rifle. Pushing the album strictly by himself, Quelle introduced his off-kilter brand of highly personal boom-bap to a new audience with the help of folks he'd forged relationships with over the years: House Shoes, Danny Brown, Roc Marciano and of course, Crown Nation. The album found a cult following and created opportunities for more diverse collaborations with the likes of Sean Price and producers Dibia$e and Knowledge.
Having soaked up game all over the country, Quelle has a style with no obvious lineage. He sounds like nobody else. Few other MC/producers can leap from teenage humor to intense personal reflection, from hardcore rhyming to serious experimentation and make sense of it all. More succinctly, Quelle is the real deal. The dual threat MC/Producer comes to the table with no gimmicks or trends. Quelle Chris is just being his unapologetically honest self.
Often referred to as The Grand Imperial, Gensu Dean may be Hip Hop's best kept secret. Currently shinning bright out of Texas like the great Dj Premier, Dean utilizes a vintage sampler by Emu Systems, the classic SP1200, as his weapon of choice. With device in hand and equipped with an extensive 7,000+ piece vinyl collection, Dean has created a unique yet seamless method of "chopping" beats and samples. Being dubbed Gensu (i.e the famous razor sharp steak knife of the 80's) he can be found digging deep in the crates which provide the backdrop for his soulful, emotive sound, that stays laced with rugged and gritty drums. Gensu Dean embodies the essence of true, honest HipHop, while his music personifies the art of beat diggin' with sheer creativity. When questioned about his production style he explains, "I consciously use a vintage machine that represents a special & classic era in HipHop. I also updated my musical approach in order to compete and remain relevant in today's times." Dean goes on to say "...this creates a harmonic balance of old & new." With this approach Gensu has produced masterpieces for the likes of Royal Flush, David Banner, Old Dirty Bastard (WuTang), and Lord Jamar (Brand Nubian) to name a few. This trademark sound has lead to co-signs from music industry giants such as Dj Premier to Dj Spinna.
Re-establishing the standards for a HipHop producers' way of life, Gensu Dean's solo debut entitled "Standard Life" is bound to take the music world by storm! The lead single features Hip Hop legend and Queens Lounge veteran Large Professor on "Forever." The Hip Hop world is definitely ready to receive his sound. Packed with a star studded cast, Dean has assembled a fierce line up of talent for the "Standard Life" project. Featuring legendary artists such as Large Professor, Prince Po (of Organized Konfusion), Count Bass D, David Banner, Brand Nubians, and Roc Marciano to name a few. Even the KING OF ROCK, DMC (of world renowned RUN DMC) is found on the album verbally endorsing gENSu's master work in crafting raw Hip Hop production. Certified "BANGERS" is how this album was referred to by a private listener. In the midst of auto-tunes and ring tone rap Gensu Dean emerges with "Lo-Fi Fingahz".
Philadelphia native, and rapper/producer Has-Lo has been contributing to hip hop, disguised as an artist you haven't given props to yet. His songs are insightful, creative, and will make you think; something that music lacks today.
Has-Lo has worked with artists such as Icon The Mic King, Awar, Zilla Rocca, Curly Castro, and producer Small Professor. Has' 1st album Fuck Has Day was released in 2007 followed by his EPSmall Metal Objects, which received much acclaim. Soon after, Has-Lo liberated his joint project "The Undisputed" with producer Culture I.S.T.M, under the name Stranje Dayz. The project was originally recorded in 2005, and pressed in limited quantities. In 2011 he released his second album "In Case I Don't Make It."
Has-Lo has received artistic praise from industry circles. Respected DC producer Oddisee commented, "Has-Lo's music has such a familiar sound to it. It reels you in with his use of drum breaks & sample based production. Once his vocals come in, you quickly learn that this producer/mc is putting a beautiful new & dark twist to what we all know and love." Eric Coons of the influential site Bloggerhouse stated, "Has-Lo's storytelling on wax is so vivid and detailed that Slick Rick would crack a smile."