Mello Music Group (Record label)
Mello Music Group is a Phoenix-based record label for hip hop music, founded in 2008 by Michael Tolle (aka Mello), specializing in hip hop. While studying at the University of Arizona Michael Tolle already created mixtapes under the name Mello Mixes and performed as a DJ at after hour parties. After his degree he started teaching literature and creative writing. But soon he missed making music so much that he decided to found his own label. The first release was So Good on which Kenn Starr was over-dubbing a beat by Kev Brown and cuts by Rob Swift. Soon after that release he met Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow who helped him with getting in touch with the right people and a distribution company. In those days Oddisee became a permanent member of the label as well. In 2008 the label’s first album, 101 by Oddisee was released. Since then Mello Music Group is releasing »music for the soul, from the heart of the American culture«, »opening the realm of the intelligent Hip-hop experience through melodic evocations, beats that corroborate the truth, and voices that roar above the rising void and impose order on the terrible & triumphant moments of everyday life«, as Michael Tolle explained the philosophy behind his label. The secret seems to be that Mello Music Group handles every release like a challenge and like a piece of art that has to be treated carefully. Also the design of the artworks is done thoughtfully: Illustrators and artists including ear One, Tokio, Gene Pendon of HVW8, Goldi Gold, Flux Wanda and Aniekan Udofia designed record sleeves for Mello Music Group.
Mello Music Group in Features
Music Interview | posted 30.04.2020
Quelle Chris
Accepting the chaos
He’s the most prolific oddball of the rap underground. And he’s on fire. With »Innocent Country 2« Quelle Chris follows up on his groundbreaking record »Guns« and a process where hopelessness is contradicted by accepting a surreal anxiety.
Mello Music Group in Reviews
Music Review | posted 15.05.2015
The Good Fight
With his lyrics, Oddisee refrains from all the rap-clichés. »The Good Fight« convinces us with personal topics and remains light-footed and catchy at all times.
Music Review | posted 29.04.2015
Red Pill
Look What This World Did To Us
Disarming honesty and an organic and warm soul-bap-background: Red Pill‘s »Look What This World Did To Us« comes with laid back working-class rap.
Music Review | posted 09.10.2014
Apollo Brown & Ras Kass
On »Blasphemy«, boom-bap anesthesiologist Apollo Brown proves together with Ras Kass that a failing rap star’s ultimate hideaway lies within the surroundings of soul-samples.
Music Review | posted 05.05.2014
Apollo Brown
»Thirty Eight«
»Thirty Eight«, Apollo Brown’s first instrumental record since 2011, proves that it only takes a bit of oil and polish to make the wheel run smoothly again.
Music Review | posted 24.10.2013
The Beauty In All
»The Beauty in All«, Oddisee’s seventeenth (!) release, renders homage to the beauty of the imperfect and stands in line with his high grade output over the last years.
Music Review | posted 22.05.2013
Ugly Heroes
Ugly Heroes
No other than Apollo Brown is hiding behind the alias Ugly Heroes, providing Red Pill and Verbal Kent with some of his best beats on this record.
Music Review | posted 12.11.2012
Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson
Dice Game
One shouldn’t expect any surprises from »Dice Game«: The Brown/Simpson-axis harmonizes with traditional sample-aesthetics and the classic MPC-arrangements in the style of 1993’s RZA-school.
Music Review | posted 06.11.2012
7even Thirty
Heaven's Computer
»Heaven’s Computer« is no moon landing, but can be compared in it’s solidity to a musical sky dive from the stratosphere.
Music Review | posted 06.11.2012
The Black Opera
Libretto: Of King Legend
The mysterious artist-alliance is the Mello Music Group’s new signing: You could call it worldmusic 2.0. You could also call it the HipHop of the future.
Music Review | posted 24.09.2012
People Hear What They See
»People Hear What They See« doesn’t try to chum up with a pseudo-genteel grown-up-ideology. Instead, it focuses on musical and textual standards which clearly value timelessness more than zeitgeist.
Music Review | posted 03.04.2012
Apollo Brown & O.C.
Even though Apollo Brown doesn’t dig very deep into his record boxes and despite O.C. pointing the obligatory critical finger here and there, this album is an example of quality team-play.
Music Review | posted 13.03.2012
Gensu Dean
Lo-Fi Fingahz
Gensu Dean brings together rap heroes of the nineties for his classic boom bap sound. The potential of this get-together hasn’t been used to its fullest though.
Music Review | posted 09.03.2012
Sean Born
Behind The Scale
Together with a big part of the artist-repertoire belonging to his label Mello Music Group, Sean Born has created an album that’s yearning for the spring.
Music Review | posted 06.02.2012
The Earn
Thoughtful and independent is the rap-music by yU. It’s worth taking a closer look at what’s happening in Washington, D.C. – there’s quite a lot to discover there.
Music Review | posted 18.10.2011
Hassaan Mackey & Apollo Brown
Daily Bread
For Daily Bread , Apollo Brown is teaming up with the rapper Hassaan Mackey. Those in favor of a souly kind of Hip Hop will be well entertained.
Music Review | posted 17.10.2011
Makin' Dollars
DTMD is the latest signing of the Mello Music Group. On their debut, they present a very relaxed sound inspired by Pete Rock and Jazzy Jeff.
Music Review | posted 18.09.2011
Rock Creek Park
Yet again, Oddisee is proving his sense for compositions: Rock Creek Park is a nostalgic soundtrack and an ode to the park of the same name in Washington, D.C.
Music Review | posted 22.05.2011
Odd Seasons
With 31 enormously diverse tracks, on Odd Seasons Oddisee leads us through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter .
Music Review | posted 15.04.2011
In Case I Don't Make It
Has-Lo proves on his debut that he’s capable of painting musical pictures – though not essentially positive ones – that are getting stuck in the listeners’ heads.
Music Review | posted 25.03.2011
Apollo Brown
Apollo Brown’s Clouds counts on a harmonious structure and sensitively put samples in the tradition of good old Hip-hop beat tapes.
Mello Music Group in News
Music News | posted 29.06.2020
Joell Ortiz & Kxng Crooked
Exclusive Edition: »H.A.R.D.«
Joell Ortiz and Kxng Crooked (aka Crooked I), both from the rap supergroup Slaughterhouse have announced a new album on Mello Music with »H.A.R.D.«. Vinyl will follow in September. We have a strictly limited colour edition in our assortment.
Music News | posted 24.06.2020
Apollo Brown & Che' Noir
Exclusive Edition: »As God Intended«
Apollo Brown has teamed up with Che’ Noir for »As God Intended«, which will be released by Mello Music Group on September 4, 2020. The album is exclusively available from us in a Coloured Vinyl Edition.
Music News | posted 13.04.2020
Quelle Chris & Chris Keys
Exclusive: »Innocent Country: Season 2«
Actually, 2020 can erase itself – but: Quelle Chris is releasing a new record. Together with producer Chris Keys and a handful of feature guests. Exclusively from us in a limited colour vinyl edition.
Music News | posted 04.04.2011
Odd Seasons
Oddisee will release a real concept album titled Odd Seasons. It contains a mix of 31 Rap- and Instrumental-Tracks, a mix of warm and icy atmospheres.
Recent Articles
Music List | posted 04.05.2021
10 All Time Favs
Since their debut »Jinx« in 2019, Crumb have been considered the next big thing in music . Now their new album »Ice Melt« is out. The perfect opportunity to ask them about 10 records that have shaped, improved and educated them.
Music Column | posted 11.05.2021
Records Revisited
Grace Jones – Nightclubbing, 1981
Nightlife for androids: On »Nightclubbing«, along with one of the world’s leading rhythm sections, Grace Jones made sure that reggae and new wave would develop a new life of its own in 80’s pop.
Music News | posted 22.04.2021
Reissue: »Feed Me Weird Things«
»Feed Me Weird Things,« Squarepusher’s debut released 25 years ago on Rephlex, will be reissued in an expanded edition on Warp Records on June 4, 2021.
Music Interview | posted 27.04.2021
Adrian Younge
Sonic history lesson
»The American Negro« marks the beginning of a new chapter in Adrian Younge’s work. It is more frontal, more politically charged, and more self-assured. He wants to teach. We had the opportunity for an in-depth interview.
Music Review | posted 07.05.2021
Electric Party
With »Play« the label Knekelhuis releases nine tracks from the eighties of the Dutch band Electric Party.