30 October 2013

Album Review: Black Milk - No Poison No Paradise

     Black Milk delivers the goods with his second full length release of 2013.  No Poison No Paradise  showcases the two distinct production styles Black has been evolving over the years. On the one hand, there is the boom bap and soul production that will always be one of his signature sounds. In the other hand, you have the more synth-driven production that surfaced with the release of Tronic  back in 2008. Rather than creating an album strictly based off of one style, this release showcases both production styles. The result is more fresh sounding than stale since the songs have different things they are trying to accomplish sonically.

    Even though No Poison No Paradise has two very unique sounds, the album is not necessarily split in half. With the two distinct styles mixed throughout the track listing, the album sounds more like a whole album and less like two EPs just mashed together. Besides the lead off releases Sunday's Best and Monday's Worst, the track Deion's House shows Black Milk flexing his boom bap mastery and his distinctive wordplay. Deion's House is also the only other soul/boom bap beat Black Milk spits over. It's good to hear that this song is not lacking in any way. The other songs in this style are instrumentals but when you have an instrumental like Sonny Jr. that boasts a collaboration between Black Milk, Robert Glasper, and Dwele, it is impossible to call the instrumentals a weak point on the album.

     The other vocal tracks are centered more on Black's synth approach to production. The production on these tracks are as if he took in the lessons from Tronic and stepped it up a notch. Ghetto Demf has that Tronic sound all up in it. The track also features recent indie hip hop wunderkind Quelle Chris. Now, Quelle really isn't my cup of whiskey, but the two work well together, which is easy to hear. For those that need a double shot of Black, peep the track Codes and Cab Fare featuring the one and only Black Thought. The Espresso Twins (as I like to call them) are evenly matched with their lyrics over a minimal style beat. Neither on of them outshines the other, but they don't half-stepping either. Another minimal beat that gets ripped is his latest release Dismal. The beat is pretty much a spacey metronome for this introspective track. Not every MC can do so much with so little, but in the words of a good friend of mine, "That song right there? Yeah, that boy did that."

     No Poison No Paradise shows the continued evolution of Black Milk both lyrically and musically. I remember the first track I heard from him back in 2006, Sound the Alarm. The track was fire then and truth be told, shit is still hot right now. All I could think then was that I needed to keep an eye out for this dude. I could not have even imagined 7 years later that this is what he was going to be working with. Black Milk continues to grow as an artist without becoming something unrecognizable to those who have held him down from jump. If you don't know about this cat by now, and you need something different from the trap club-banger pimpalicious iced-out molly records, definitely try this one out for size.

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