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Whether it is a boastful declaration or a tongue-in-cheek descriptor, Detroit MC & producer, Black Milk has caused quite a stir and perhaps gained some detractors in the music world with the title of his 5th solo LP. As solid an album 2008’s Tronic was, there was little indication that Black Milk would expand upon the sound after a comparatively inactive 2009. Employing the services of drummer Daru Jones and various members of the Will Sessions Band, Black Milk isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel in using live instruments in his production. Still, does this album live up to its seemingly hyperbolic title? Read on.

The LP begins with “365,” a blistering collage of busy live drums (Jones), triumphant horns (Will Sessions Band) and the much improved rhyming of Black Milk. One of hip hop’s most gifted narrators, Black guides the listeners literally through the events of his past year such as the unfortunate deaths of his aunt and Slum Village member Baatin and the coma-inducing stroke that struck his manager Hex Murda. The song’s greatest feat is that while the subject matter is most certainly grim, the music backing Black Milk’s busy verse it is anything but. “Welcome (Gotta Go)” is an excellent, bouncy track that, like the one before it, displays more strong verses from Black Milk. The track doesn’t appear to employ the live instruments of the preceding song but there is some strong keyboard work from Black Milk that is reminiscent of his production on Tronic.

The once obligatory girl rap gets an upgrade with “Oh Girl” featuring the vocal talents of AB. Earnest without being overbearing, the track is another busy production that somehow works and kept steady by Black Milk’s rap performance. AB’s harmonious vocals build the book and Black Milk’s strong snyth work provides the necessary melodic glue to hold things together. “Deadly Medley,” featuring Detroit powerhouse MCs Royce Da 5’9 and Elzhi, firmly jolts the listener back to a grittier landscape and all three MCs deliver some of their sharpest rhymes to date – and it can be argued that Black Milk stole the lyrical show. Black Milk revisits the turmoil described in the opening track on “Distortion” and the MC is at his most revealing about the tragic events. With vocalist Melanie Rutherford’s haunting vocals, Black Milk places the listener in the center of his storm; the producer’s voice is rendered almost somber.

The LP ends with “Closed Chapter” featuring Mr. Porter and continues the excellent musicianship present throughout the album. The celebratory track culminates all of the artist’s efforts neatly and the vocals from Mr. Porter are an enhancement. Black Milk has created an album certainly worthy of being a contender for hip hop album of the year. There are moments where the dizzying rhyming becomes a lesson in improving one’s attention span and some tracks seemed to have the music mixed louder than the vocals. But when everything gels, there are few who can match the audio creativity of Black Milk.

-D.L. Chandler

Comments

  • tha truth and you know it!!

    man i got this album and its wack elzhi’s verse on this album was the only hot thing remember its only one Jay Dilla and Black you ain’t Him… sorry.

  • wordujp

    Tronic is waaaaaaaay better than this shit. Total fail!!!

  • splashy

    tronic is waaaaay better than this shit. its kinda wack

  • forgottenthealbumalready

    yeah this shit aint that great, the elzhi and royce track is too slow, made me wanna go sleep, disappointing as hell.

  • flip wilson

    Popular Demand > Tronic

  • This

    Album was not fresh

  • Freedom of the people

    I don’t know why so much hate towards this album. It’s definitely in the top 5 hip hop albums of this year. Agreed his other albums had a different vibe he has obviously grown a bit lyrically and the production is to the point and bangs.
    I wonder what the other commentators are listening to these days maybe lil wayne

  • OKAYDUKE

    This album is a BIG step in a dope new direction.. Yall Mofo’s need to check yo selfs!

  • SweatyKeith

    Gotta give it to Black for raising the bar on production. This record didn’t sound like what you’d expect from the average sample heavy producer. Lyrically, Black Milk is still a rapping producer, and I beg to differ with the reviewer that on Deadly Medley he outshone Elzhi and Royce. From that track alone, you can easily tell how Black still trails in the company strictly rappers. And what’s up with OKP giving this joint 88 and Rakaa’s Crown of Thorns 87? Crown of Thorns is an instant HipHop classic compared to AOTY, no questions asked.

  • banz

    This album is fukin dope! Black Milk is so original on each album he comes up with. People who hated are idiots that’s all.

  • As a musician … lol

    the musicianship of this album can’t be hated on, you can tell this was well thought out… and for the dude sayin theres onle one dilla.. if you cant see black milk distancing himself from dilla’s style then i’m confused

    • Daud

      Word!