Stream/Buy: Black Milk – Album of The Year
The title of Detroit-native Black Milk’s latest release, Album of the Year, is at first glance pretentious. Like most things though, if you dig just a little bit past the surface, the pompous title quickly transforms into something more meaningful, and gives rise to work that is exceptional.
Black Milk first gained national attention with his 2007 album Popular Demand and then solidified has position at the top of the hip-hop game in 2008 with his CD Tronic. Then, 365 tumultuous days passed between when Tronic was released and when he turned in Album of the Year. During that span of time Black Milk’s mentor, Baatin of Slum Village, passed away, his manager fell into a coma and became paralyzed, and some of his family members died. Black Milk named this album Album of the Year because it is the album that chronicles the past year of his life, not as some proclamation of self-greatness; although Black Milk could get away with it. Album of the Year is a 12-track album that is full of exceptional production from Black Milk himself and improved lyricism that will have you rewinding the song to hear what Black Milk just spit.
On an album that is full of heaters it is always an arduous task to pick out tracks that manage to rise above the rest and Album of the Year poses this welcomed problem. I solved this by listening to the album a couple of times and seeing what tracks I returned to, and “Deadly Medley” rose to the top. “Deadly Medley” features slower production that is comprised (as best as I can tell) of guitar, off-kilter piano, and the usual slew of hard hitting drum kits. Black Milk is joined by fellow Detroit natives Royce Da 5’9” and Elzhi who both lend versus that do the beat justice. The tenor-drum heavy, horn-assisted “Round of Applause” and “Black and Brown”, which is anchored by well-arranged violins, are two more tracks that standout from the rest. Perhaps the most interesting song is “Ghetto Psychedelic Rock” which feels a bit like an Outkast track due to its production and the singing in the background, but it does have distinct Black Milk drum work and scratching at the end of the track that is finishing touch worth waiting for.
With Album of the Year Black Milk grants hip-hop fans insight into the past year of his life, while providing music that will stay at the top of many people’s “Most Played” lists for some time to come.