Detroit producer Apollo Brown continues his scintillating run of collaborative albums by joining forces with Mr. Yaowa himself: Joell Ortiz. The pair are set to drop Mona Lisa via Mello Music Group on Oct. 26. They’ve also dropped the project’s first song, “Decisions,” to give fans a small taste of what’s to come. You can get an exclusive first listen via Billboard today (Aug. 22) below.
Brown’s ascent as one of hip hop’s most wanted producers over the past few years has been extraordinary to witness. Meshing his golden era sound with rhymes from the likes of Ghostface, Skyzoo, Planet Asia, OC, Locksmith, Ras Kass and others has resulted in some incredible projects that have been the epitome of the one emcee, one producer vibe.
Ortiz has also been crushing everything in sight. Whether it be his own albums (That’s Hip-Hop, House Slippers, The Brick: Bodega Chronicles) or as 1/4 of the super lyrical outfit Slaughterhouse, the Brooklyn native has carved a lane as one of the premiere wordsmiths in hip hop. The two joining forces is expected to yield nothing less than fireworks.
“In my ears, this is what the painting Mona Lisa sounds like,” Apollo Brown tells Billboard of the album. “The music is straightforward. That’s all I ask for when I’m the listener, so that’s all I give when I’m the creator. No bullshit. None. I provided the canvas, and Joell provided the honest brushstrokes. This album is a relatable body of work that everyone can listen to and appreciate. It’s growth within a gold frame. Open your ears and enjoy.”
Ortiz says he wrote “Decisions” about an “actual period” in his life. “It was during this time that I was consumed by the streets, but fascinated with the idea of being a rapper,” he comments to Billboard. “I was dealing with certainty and uncertainty. I had one foot in the booth and one foot on the corner. The corner fed my family, but the booth fed my soul. As you all know, I ended up leaving the hustle alone and pursuing a music career.
“It all worked out,” he continues. “Thank God! But this song best describes exactly how I felt during that time and shows you just how much of a battle it actually was to come to what I know now as the right decision.”
Listen to “Decisions” below and pre-order Mona Lisa.