Detroit’s hip-hop pulse has been strong since the days of The Hip-Hop Shop. And yeah Brooklyn ranks alongside Queens & The Bronx as breeding grounds for some of hip-hop’s elite. Random Axe is two parts 313 and one part BKNY, a highly combustible compound. Black Milk, Guilty Simpson & Sean Price have that triple threat chemistry a la Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler & Dirk Nowitzki. Any album that makes you want to cop the instrumental version gives it legs and Milk has clearly emerged as one of the top producers in the game.
Sometimes a 4-star rating doesn’t do an album’s exemplary nature justice. This is one such case. A rating is always a verdict but not necessarily a hard and fast one, especially in this era of unprecedented listener voice and influence. This generation has seen the line between artist and fan almost erase itself. The Internet is the new Invisible Hand.
The beats here just make your head drift. Milk has cultivated an electro-centric musical sensibility; a sound every bit as reminiscent of Kraftwerk, Gary Numan & Brian Eno as The Neptunes & J Dilla. Then there’s Milk’s organic approach featured on cuts like “The Hex” and “Understand This.” It’s no wonder he’s working with the likes of Jack White now. There’s nothing wrong with the way the MCs undress the drums and loops either. Guilty is a bully of an MC, so laid-back yet so menacing. He and Sean Price are blessed with two of the best voices in hip-hop. Sean is all passion and precise delivery while Guilty just kinda lays in the cut with his droning assaults. And the brief vocal-less interludes a la Primo & Pete Rock, bravo Milk; staying current while giving a nod to the classics of old. Hear, hear.
It’s not easy to dance around the issue of Trick Trick’s appearance on “Another One.” Obviously he is one of the men to go through if you want to get on and stay on in the D (the other being Guilty and Milk’s manager, Hex Murda). Luckily, The Rockness Monster and another Milk banger salvages that one. “Monster Babies.” Come on, son. That shit leaked in 2009 and still knocks. “Chewbacca” featuring Roc Marciano. Nasty. “Everybody, Nobody, Somebody” and “Shirley C,” also dope on plastic. “Last Call” is a sick swan song for an album that took 3 years to see the light of day. 15 tracks and nothing that makes you want to stop listening (OK, you might skip a track or two on occasion). That makes this a complete album. So nice they still make these things.