This album is about life. From beginning to end, Curtis Cross, aka Black Milk, shares his one year autobiography to heavy drums (by the talented Daru Jones) and melodic keys and vocals (by one of my favorites, AB). The Detroit producer/emcee is unique in the way he able to capture the essence of music: putting his entire life to lyrics and ill production, and allowing the listener to determine whether or not they understand. Bottom line, Album of the Year is a dope project.
The album begins with a bird's eye view of the emcees previous year, with the song "365". This song touches on different events such as the passing of his aunt, the unexpected illness of his manager and friend, Hexmurda, the death of his dear friend and Slum Village member, Baatin, and his decision to push beyond circumstances. This tenacity and perseverance that Black highlights in his introduction continues throughout the rest of the album. From deep songs such as "Distortion" featuring Melanie Rutherford, "Over Again" with the talented Monica Blaire, and "Closed Chapter" featuring Mr. Porter, to ridiculous production on "Deadly Medley" featuring Elzhi and Royce da 5'9 and "Round of Applause", Black has set himself in a place where he can only go up from here.
Much like every album I listen to, I always have those few that I keep on repeat. One of the tracks that hit me from the open was "Welcome (Gotta Go)". Now, I can't fully describe to you why I feel this song so much, but the drum beats and production on this track are absolutely flawless. Every lyric Black spits is a reflection of his growth in the industry, as well as his music. "Tell them all settle down...we bringing the real wack niggas not allowed..." is the representation of said maturity. "If you ain't ready for it, what you in it for?" The growth he exhibits is the fuel for the entire album and helps to push it beyond the listener's expectation. My other favorite track, which really shouldn't surprise a soul, is "Oh Girl" featuring the sexy voice of Aaron Abernathy (also known as AB). Who doesn't like a love story? The admiration of your significant other or crush is something that not a lot of hip hop artists are able to articulate without some ridiculously sexually interjected lyrics. Black doesn't have this issue as he states "I'd rather see you sittin' in boy shorts chillin..." The admiration of a woman's natural beauty is exactly what Black highlights. This is something that all ladies need to pay attention to, as this seems to be the recurring theme amongst men: nobody cares how flashy or well done up you are if you don't know how to chill and just be easy. Take heed ladies.
Straight up and down, this album bangs! I appreciate Black's ability to let songs breathe without adding the extra lyrics just to take up space. I also love the honesty and inside look to what his life has been like in the makings of this album. It is almost like a conversation, coupled with dope beats and dope rhymes. I'd be remised if I didn't mention the fact that this project sounds like an ACTUAL live studio album. Every instrument is clearly enhanced and you feel as if you are experiencing a Black Milk show LIVE. I'm definitely a fan. Make sure you pick up Album of The Year and support this artist. In one year, this brother has experienced sickness, death, circle shifts, haters, and suppressors, and somehow STILL manages to go to work, keep his head high, and drop maybe one of the illest albums to date...what you on??