The Origins Of "Thirty Eight" & My Favorite Original Soundtrack Influences
With his instrumental soundtrack "Thirty Eight" in stores now, Apollo Brown details his chemistry with Roc Marciano and why this album's aesthetic is "grimy like daytime prostitution."
I put Clouds out in 2011, and it was a way to show my fans I have a variation of sound. A lot of people were used to me just rocking real hard, grimey stuff, and I had to let people know I make a lot of life music. That’s actually what I prefer to make, and that’s what I prefer to listen to. I like music that has a lot of feeling and music that can take me to another place when I’m listening to it. We called the Clouds album a backdrop for reflection. That was in 2011. We got an amazing response off that album and still do to this day. So the fans have wanted me to put out another instrumental album for a while. Obviously we’ve let three years go by before I decided to do so. I didn’t want to come back with the same type of album. I wanted to come with an original soundtrack sound.
I’m a big fan of original soundtracks, scores and things like that...things that help you develop a story. I wanted to come out with an album that was kind of an instrumental soundtrack that can be interpreted differently by every listener. I tell people a lot, “Every listener is going to come up with their own story when they’re listening.” Each story is going to be unique to each listener whenever they listen to this album.
How I Decided On The Title “Thirty Eight”
The original title to the album was Pop’s Revolver. I started calling it Thirty Eight just to be a little bit more straight to the point. I call it Thirty Eight because a .38 caliber revolver or weapon in general, at its peak and in its prime, was probably the most used, sought after, and reliable caliber of its kind. A .38 was police-issue. Every cop in the United States used a .38. The .38 was that old gun in your grandma’s purse. The .38 was also that old, trusty gun that was in the shoebox in your grandpa’s closet. When all else fails, when everything jams, you can always trust that .38. You can always go to that good, old, trusty, reliable .38. It will always work for you. It will always fire. That’s why I call it Thirty Eight.
The Story Behind Thirty Eight & The 1981 Vibe
Unapologetically, Thirty Eight is not going to be for everyone. It’s a niche project. There’s gonna be a lot of people that are gonna hate it. There’s gonna be a lot of people that are gonna love it. It depends on how you feel in that moment when you’re listening to the music. It’s not for everybody. I stand by this album 100%, and I think it’s beautiful music. I love the way it rides. I love the way it feels when I’m listening to it. It’s a roller coaster. It’ll take you on a grimy ride on certain spots, and it’ll take you on a more—who knows—lovemaking ride on other spots. It just depends on where it is in that story line.
I often describe it as back-alley 1981 or 1982. It’s kind of like pool hall fights and day prostitution. Not night prostitution, day prostitution—the shit that’s just gritty and right in your face. There’s no hiding behind walls or doorways. It’s there.
I say 1981 because this album also gives me the feel of the transitional years between heroin and crack. Crack came on the scene around 1984 and heroin did its thing all through the ‘70s and early ‘80s. It’s kind of the transitional years.
When you look at old movies, early ‘80s and late ‘70s movies, cops and robbers movies, movies like The Warriors, it gives me that feel. It’s that feel of running through the alleys, jumping over fences, rooftop to rooftop… Riding in a car, and the camera’s on the hood looking back at the windshield, and you see all the lights coming off the windshield. You see the dude driving with his accomplice. There are certain spots on the record that’s reflective, and that’s what it is. You’re looking out the window, and you’re reflecting on what you just did or what you’re getting ready to do. There’s certain spots on the album that’s straight-up like, “We just robbed you, and there’s nothing you can do.” This is my interpretation of it, and it changes every day after every listen. That’s Thirty Eight in a nutshell.
Original Soundtracks That Inspired “Thirty Eight”
Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man is an amazing OST. The music on there, it doesn’t matter at what point in the film, it doesn’t matter at what point in the actual OST. It’s beautiful music. Another OST that I love is actually Blacula. If you listen to Blacula, it’s an amazing album. The music throughout it from front-to-back is crazy. It’s a great score, and then there’s music on the album that wasn’t in the movies. It’s great music.
The Warriors OST is awesome.
The Spook Who Sat By The Door. Dope music.
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Amazing OST.
Cotton Comes To Harlem.
Any OST that had to do with Isaac Hayes.
Any OST that had to do with Quincy Jones.
Any OST that had to do with Barry White.
We’re talking about amazing composers. These aren’t producers, these are composers. They make every piece of music fit the feeling of the scene. Even if you weren’t feeling that way, they could put some music that doesn’t even match and makes you feel a whole different way than what you think you’re supposed to be feeling. Somebody could have just murdered somebody in cold-blood, and they’ll put a certain piece of music to it that makes you feel bad for the person that murdered the other guy. You don’t even feel sorry for the man who just got murdered. You’re feeling sorry for the murderer. That’s what music can do; that’s what a score can do. It can make you feel things that you’re not really supposed to be feeling. Like old Dolomite OSTs and stuff like that, even though they were comedies, there was amazing music on those.
These are bodies of work from front-to-back that evoke emotion. Just like any album should be whether it’s an instrumental album or a vocal album. Whether it’s Hip Hop or it’s R&B or it’s Rock. Whatever. I think any piece of music that you make should evoke emotion. That’s what OSTs can do.
My Chemistry With Roc Marciano As The Sole Featured Guest
A lot of people don’t know that when I was making this album I was making this album with Roc Marciano in mind. A lot of these beats on this album were for Roc. They were for me and him doing an album together. They were for a project that I wanted to do with him. I was busy with stuff, he was busy with stuff, so obviously the project didn’t come into fruition, but we still wanted to put together something. We still wanted to do a couple joints just to kind of let people know what would have been if we would have had done a project together. Which we still can. It may still happen. It’s something that the fans really want, so this was kind of a teaser.
If me and Roc did an album together, it’d just be on some slow, grimy shit. Here are two joints, which are also two instrumentals on the album. Here’s two joints we’re gonna put on a five-inch vinyl along with the CD in the same packaging. That’s never been done. You’re gonna open up the packaging and see the CD’s on one side, plus the vinyl’s the exact same size as the CD. So that’s pretty dope. I love the packaging. It’s just one of those things. Me and Roc fit together like hand and glove. Roc being the producer that he is as well—an amazing producer—he’s also a dope ass emcee. He rides a beat like no other. Just the slow flow, it’s just nasty. The voice for it, he just has everything that matches what I was trying to do with this album. He was the perfect person. It wasn’t even anybody else that I wanted to put on there. He agreed to help me out with…he agreed to be a strong part of it. A lot of those beats were beats I would have intended for Roc Marciano if I wasn’t making this album.
Stream Apollo Brown’s Latest Release, “Thirty Eight” Below:
Apollo Brown is a Detroit, Michigan-based producer for Mello Music Group. His previous credits include work with OC, Ghostface Killah, The Left, Onyx, Chino XL, D12, Danny Brown, Wordsworth, Guilty Simpson and many more. His most recent project, “Thirty Eight” is available for purchase now via iTunes and via Amazon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ApolloBrown.