Hmmm. Dare I say it? (Glances at the calendar.) It’s almost August. We might have a winner: Best rap album of the year, on what may be the best independent rap label of the year.
Duck Down has brought us solid comebacks from Smif-N-Wessun and Pete Rock as well as Black Rob, and they’re promising an album reuniting Buckshot and 9th Wonder. And they’ve delivered a supergroup album that far surpasses what Joell, Buddens, and Royce thought they’d be doing in Slaughterhouse (which was good, but not great).
Random Axe is three well-established underground rap artists: Detroit’s Black Milk (a well-known producer) and Guilty Simpson (known for his experimental work with J Dilla and Madlib), and New York’s Sean Price (of the legendary Boot Camp Clik, Brooklyn’s answer to Wu Tang Clan).
Black Milk’s production can, at times, border on the weird–but it’s always intricate. Here, it’s a little more laid back than usual, but still captivating. It’s as if he knows he’s part of a group now, so he’s on the team rather than dominating the affair. Sean Price is probably the best street-story rhymer out there, but he’s struggled to reach name-brand status, and Guilty Simpson can be wild and daring. With that duo on the cuts, Black Milk is wise to lay back in the cut. You don’t even notice when he drops new beats in and out–it’s effortless for him. There’s even several 1-minute cuts that, rather than being filler, provide smooth transitions between songs.
It’s hard to keep up with the verses here, with two rappers who are at the top of their game, and know how to kill it each and every time. Here’s just a few choice lines:
“Your tough talk? I don’t get it/You wouldn’t even fight a ticket.”
“Never been afraid to scrap/I’ll make your whole life fade to black.”
“Brain dead/Give great head/With a sassy mouth/At the club whole ass is out.”
“I’m blowing smoke signals at an Indian broad/I told her, ‘I’m unemployed, please give me a job.’”
“I’ll carve a smile right next to your frown/Like laugh now, cry later.”
Cameos by Roc Marciano, Danny Brown, Fatt Father, Trick Trick and Rock from Heltah Skeltah (a Sean Price duo), among others, fill out this brilliant rap album. I’m so sure it’s great, I’m already giving it a Best of 2011 tag.