Review written by: WISDOM
Album Of The Year is an audacious title for an album, so Black Milk has a lot of explaining to do with this collection of twelve songs. Black Milk is the Detroit beat miner and lyricist that has built a very solid buzz with the underground hip hop collective, producing for various artists such as Slum Village, Elzhi, Pharoahe Monch, and countless others. Album Of The Year is Black Milk’s affirmation that he belongs in the same company as those mentioned artists. Is the album title accurate though?
Starting off Album Of The Year with “365”, Black Milk flexes his lyrical muscle over a steroid-laden track, discussing what has occurred in his life over a 365-day period, including the death of Baatin, the Slum Village emcee who was a major influence for Black Milk. “Welcome (Gotta Go)” is a moody and somewhat subdued song that allows Black Milk to talk about his often overlooked persona in the industry. Black Milk has definitely upped the lyrical ante, because he spits venom on this song and many others. Of course his production, utilizing live instrumentation with samples, is top-notch. “Keep Going”, with its live drums, breathes with energy and vigor while BM lyrically asserts himself over the musical landscape. Next up is “Oh Girl”, a track that has Black Milk expounding about the feminine presence, with AB supplying the background energy.
The song that many fans are familiar with is “Deadly Medley”, with Black Milk rhyming alongside Royce da 5’9 and Elzhi. Black Milk actually does major damage with the other lyrical titans on this track, resulting in an instant Detroit classic. Listening to this song showcases the Motor City as a major hip hop player that sometimes doesn’t get the proper shine. It also illuminates Black Milk as a serious lyricist, who doesn’t just rest on his production merits. The following song, “Distortion” brings a layered aesthetic sonically, making room for the Detroit lyricist/producer to voice his storytelling abilities. Lyrically, “Distortion” is a vivid view into the mind of Black Milk, clocking in at 6:15. Melanie Rutherford supplied the background vocals on this choice cut. “Over Again”, the next cut on Album Of The Year, featuring Monica Blaire, goes for the hip hop jugular. Black Milk wastes no time in providing food for thought about inner city living, over a smooth production backed by even smoother vocals. “Round Of Applause” is a rousing aural treat by Black Milk. This song is just another opportunity to witness the lyrical growth of this Dilla-influenced artist. On this track, you can almost feel Black Milk channeling the hip hop icon in production, flow, and content. That is not a negative for Black Milk, because as an artist he has stepped out of that shadow with consistent product. It is more of a compliment because of the reputation and artistry that J Dilla left behind with his passing.
Danny Brown joins BM on “Black and Brown/Mad Rapper Skit”, hitting another ball out of the proverbial park. This time Black Milk is joined with another hungry emcee over an energized track, before giving way to a skit that discusses a “Haterade sipping rapper”. “Warning (Keep Bouncing)” is an old school-influenced track that would fit just as well in 1988. The bouncy song is another verbal exercise for Black Milk. The most experimental song on the album, “Gospel Psychedelic Rock”, is just that, an exotic musical blending. Black Milk uses this song to melt and meld different musical genres, while still staying true to his roots. This is one of my favorites on the album because of the musical experimentation. “Closed Chapter” is another sonic treat where Black Milk closes Album Of The Year on a high note, joined by Detroit's own Mr. Porter. Black Milk doesn’t coast, but brings strength to the album closer from a lyrical standpoint.
What’s the verdict? Album Of The Year is a strong contender for that title, in my opinion. Black Milk has constructed an album that has all of the components for dopeness: lyrical dexterity, sonic cohesiveness, and varied themes. If this album would receive the proper push, it could very well be considered “Album Of The Year” in the court of public opinion. On December 31, 2010, my final vote will be revealed for that title, with Album Of The Year as one the front-runner for the time being!