Black Milk


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Since he made his debut on Slum Village's 2002 album Trinity, Detroit producer/MC Black Milk has benefited from an avalanche of music press and message board praise, all with good reason. His 2008 full-length maintains the same quality control, the same sense of adventure, and the same charismatic plus cocksure attitude found on previous releases, but he's never sounded sharper, in every sense of the word. As cyber-funk as its title suggests, Tronic -- and the pre-release mixtape was called Elec -- is ripe with brittle beats, tight hooks, tighter samples, and those great pro-Detroit, street-swaggering lyrics that so often get overlooked in favor of the man's productions. Add hypnotic melodies and a Kanye-style flow and things are smoother than expected, and while Tronic often sounds like the underground alternative to West's Graduation, Black Milk prefers a more back to the future approach. Instead of Daft Punk, "Hold It Down" gets its riff from Gary Numan's "Bombers," while "Losing Out" with home boy Royce da 5'9" borrows from a much more prog rock spaceman, Alan Parsons. "Hell Yeah" rattles with a vintage tech-step bassline that will have jungle fans crying "Grooverider" and then a cold vocoder brings the robot soul to the short, sweet, and very J Dilla "Tronie Summer." Hip-hop fans looking for more than exquisitely crafted, smart productions will find Pharoahe Monch's guest appearance on "The Matrix" a lyrical knockout ("You couldn't hang if you were Ving Rhames in Rosewood") and the opening "Long Story Short" a career high when it comes to composition. No filler and a logical running order makes Tronic an instantly satisfying effort, an album to return to, and maybe the best entry point to a discography already filled with vital material.

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