07 August 2018

REVIEW | Black Thought - Streams of Thought Vol. 1

With the blitz of dope albums hitting us this year, it was easy for a few projects to fall through the cracks. Especially an EP with damn near zero marketing. The Root's front man, Black Thought, decided that this was the year we'd finally get that solo studio project (not counting the J. Period The Live Mixtape series). Streams of Thought Vol. 1 is a five track EP entirely produced by 9th Wonder and The Soul Council. We've actually been teased with a solo (or non-Root collab joint) album from Black Thought since 2001. I feel most Hip Hip heads were content with getting Roots projects (since Thought is basically the groups only emcee) and Black Thought features throughout the years. But DEM BLACK THOUGHT FANS, man they've been fiending for that dolo joint heavy. Streams of Thought Vol. 1 gives us a glimpse at what a full LP might sound like. Since it's just five tracks, I won't go all Sherlock Holmes on a few tracks like I normally do. I'll hit all tracks, just less in depth.

The intro track "Twofifteen" is a play off of Thought's area code (Philly area codes are 215 and 267). You get a few expected bars about Thought's specific upbringing in Philly, but he quickly dives into more macro themes. With no breaks, Black Thought masterfully touches on a slew of topics. One of my favorite bars is "My homey Gonzalez, only know gun violence", referencing the gun control activist/advocate Emma Gonzalez (from the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida). The next track "9th vs. Thought" is a two verse assault that is broken up by a Black Thought interlude (not a hook). The first interlude states, "It takes two to make anthropology. The student and the studied. That being the case, it is time for the studied to examine the student and to evaluate its own self." Thought effortlessly hits you with a barrage of braggadocio bars that keep you permanently in stank face mode. Honestly this might be one of my favorite Black Thought tracks. Ever. If you don't hear nothing else, hear this one. The track "Dostoyevsky" is a reference to Russian author and philosopher Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky. Black Thought said he got the idea for this track from his interview with the New York Times. During the interview Black Thought was told, "You’re like the hip-hop Dostoevsky." Since then, he's had the seed for this track on deck. It took a 9th beat and a Rapsody feature to bring this intellectual track to life. Another boom bap classic track. It goes without saying that Thought and Rap KILLT that joint.

The single "Making a Murderer" actually dropped two years ago. It dropped in April, four months after the Netflix documentary series of the same name. The longest track from the bunch, clocking in at 4:33, it definitely gives Black Thought and Styles P more than enough lane to kill the track (pun intended). Full of wild metaphors and crazy visuals, this is exactly the track you'd expect from these two lyrical titans. The aptly named final track "Thank You" is the perfect bookend to this mini Black Thought/9th Wonder experiment. As you correctly assumed, this a "thank you" track to his supporters, fans, and peers/mentors that showed him love and support throughout his career. The track is also the only one produced by Khrysis (member of 9th Wonder's The Soul Council). It is also the only "soulful" beat among the grimey and boom bap sounds from the rest of the EP (it is also the only track with a chorus, featuring Mississippi songstress Kirby). Being how Khrysis comes from the "school of 9th", it is no surprise that this track provides a seamless and cohesive end to this album.

Point blank period, Streams of Thought Vol 1 is perfection. I can't think of a single thing I would change or edit. The beats are top shelf. Black Thought came correct with masterful displays of lyrics, flow and substance. Every bar is a grown man bar. No question. The features were just right (in amount and emcee selection). Y'all know I'm Rapsody biased. But her verse was one that I would put in her top 10 easily. And P! This two year old track just gets better with time. During this review I was able to uncover WAY more metaphors, double entendres, and themes I missed before. Even though I didn't OD with what I put into this review, my process was still the same. With lyrics, interviews, sample tracks, and Wiki all up on my screen like I'm Batman looking for the Joker. Black Thought is a conscious emcee with the ability to switch to grimey at the drop of a dime. This EP is not a "new Black Thought", rather the same socially/politically aware, flow switching, lyrical monster we've known all these years. But there is a slight change in his perspective. As a young intellectual emcee, Thought was able to use his experiences to predict where his journey would take him. His growth as an emcee and man now further solidify (or change) his beliefs as a younger man. You hear different pockets of flow in his delivery. Content-wise Thought is relevant while at the same time addressing issues he's highlighted since way back when. Nothing about this project feels stale. Another mark of genius is that he did it with the tried and true boom bap sound and straight BARS. AND NO HOOKS. Peep the whole thing again. No hooks to be found. Just raw lyrics all up and down the tracks. If we assume that every decision was deliberate, we can also assume (hope) that the "Vol 1" in Streams of Thought Vol 1 was as well. I have not heard anything about a "Vol 2" or how many volumes Thought plans to have. But we can all hope that the answer is "soon" and "many". I would actually like to see Black Thought do a "Vol 2" with another producer handling another 5-7 track EP (7 is still an EP right?). Matter of fact, it's really a win-win. I KNOW Thought and 9th have a couple more EPs on the studio floor, so a "Vol 2" with 9th would also be happily received. 

Peep the full EP below. And peep that Black Thought freestyle on Flex (Hot 97)..just because. 

| Like us on Facebook || Follow us on Twitter and Instagram |

No comments:

Post a Comment