hey don’t make grooves like this in too many places except Motown. By the time you finish Black Milk’s full length debut, Popular Demand
, you can’t help but think, this 23-year-old producer-turned-emcee is poised to be an audible hip hop voice (on the mic and the boards) for years to come. These are good hands.
It would be next to impossible for a breathing, clinically sane artist from Detroit – specifically, a young producer – to craft an album without a discernible Dilla influence, and Demand definitely has Dilla fingerprints all over it. But does that make Black a copycat or rather, that he’s a beat maker with good tastes? The latter is much closer to reason. No matter where you think Black takes his production cues, here’s to wishing all producers (trailblazers or biters) could give us a thump like “Play the Keys”, with the sparse shaker and the rhythmic piano chords filling the holes. And whereas Black used his fair share of sped-up soul samples (the modern equivalent to yesteryear’s ubiquitous break beats) he shows time and again that he’s no slave to clichés, offering another instrumental interlude (“Luvin It”), fit with the groove of a snapping tambourine and guitar-strum and some spacey synthesized, melodic backdrop reminiscent of the Isley Brothers’, “Whose That Lady?”. Black’s adlibs makes one think he’s in the studio zoning just like we are listening to it, right before he revealingly quips, “This is the type of sh*t I really wanna make, Man.” It’s obvious this is a young man who not only appreciates musicality, but has creative aspirations to boot.
Black is somewhat atypical in that he is also quite taken with his creative prowess. As much as Black spits throwaway bars about frivolous women, his obsession with money and what money buys, he arguably spends equal time trumpeting his skills. This is unique, since nowadays, it is not often one hears emcees as proud of their music as they are of their rims. And more than most producers that choose to duck inside the booth and babble some crayon rhymes, Black offers ample verses of well-constructed, tightly-flowed nuggets of wit and braggadocio.
If that’s not enough, Demand is the only LP to feature Baatin with his old Slum Village mates T3 and Elzhi (“Action”) since 2002’s Trinity. So add coalition-builder to expert-producer and skilled emcee as the qualities that make Black Milk and Popular Demand more than welcome additions to hip hop. This dude is a keeper.