Black Milk is an MC from Detroit, one of the roughest cities on the planet. Except that these people (much love!!!!) blog from Detroit, so let’s not kid ourselves into thinking the hipsters and yupsters aren’t taking over every affordable spot on this whole damn country.
That said, Detroit officially has status, because Eminem and D12 totally put Detroit on the map. The problem is that the more recent “feuds” that are apparently “on” there are absurd, and I am too much of an amateur to tell you much of anything about Detroit except that Eminem is from there. So I expected an Eminem-style off-ness to this album (Tronic), something with a lot of references to weird and perhaps sick things.
But this is totally different than that. This album, if it’s going to have its own special category, is going to be something like “downtempo-underground” with slightly lower production values than expected, given, well, the fact that Black Milk is apparently a great producer.
Overall I think the album is not bad, I think Black Milk’s heart is in the right place. This is the kind of ambiance I love, but the execution I think maybe is not the greatest. There is a focus on beats (and not primarily bass). But I think the train really goes off the tracks in a couple of…tracks, and I would (generally speaking) not use this album to introduce anyone mainstream into the world of underground-sounding hip hop.
The album has 14 tracks, which I thought maybe was a little long for Black Milk’s project. “Hold It Down” is an example of a song that sounds like it might have been made in my basement using the instruments from Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the first time I ever tried to freestyle. Again, it’s not really an off-putting sort of sound, but just maybe a little amateurish. “Give the Drummer Sum” is a totally hot track, though, and it accomplishes the sort of jazzy and swingy sort of hip hop vibe amazingly.
But there were also totally cliched atrocities on this album. “Without U” was just another normal R&B/Hip-Hop ballad with lower production values than you’d find on any of the albums that made this a cliche in the first place. Tracks like “Losing Out” sound like live performances, which can be charming and I don’t think is necessary a bad thing here, but it pairs poorly with what already looks like sloppiness in some of the tracks. Royce da 5’9 makes an appearance on this track, and it ends up sounding okay. Overall the tracks follow this pattern; there are some interesting downtempo and drum beat things going on. The lyrics are not really notable one way or the other; there is some “state-of-the-hip-hop” stuff going on that is nothing new.
Again, all in all I think this album is okay. It’s not great. There is nothing totally new or shocking, but on the other hand the album is not totally atrocious either. I could listen to it on a long drive and feel okay about myself.
Posted by Lally Gartel at Oct 31, 2008 01:22 PM
Dude, what’re you listening to? This is some of the most innovative production I’ve heard ALL year.
— Bertolain · Nov 1, 11:18 AM · #
Wow, Lally. You just don’t get it, I guess.
You’re really missing out on the Music part.
— Lucca · Nov 3, 01:57 AM · #
— Lally · Nov 18, 12:21 PM · #
Also, what I find interesting about a lot of these other tronic reviews is how “innovative” and “new” and “the future” this production is; but to tell you the truth, it isn’t. It’s been around forever in european downtempo, and now it’s just “new” to hip hop. I like that it’s coming around to hip hop, but calling it miraculously original is a little strange, and so maybe if I hadn’t had my electronica interest before I heard this album I would agree with you.
— Lally · Nov 18, 12:47 PM · #