Hip-hop is in a dark place right now. Innovation is at an all-time low, and albums are selling for all the wrong reasons. But Black Milk, and beatsmith and rhyme-spitter from Detroit, may keep the genre afloat with his much anticipated debut, Popular Demand.
Black Milk eschews the theatrics and gimmickry in favor of a simple and successful formula: hard-hitting production and razor-sharp lyrics. For proof, look no further than lead single “Sound the Alarm,” where Black Milk and Guilty Simpson trade verses over a trunk-rattling beat. He also sticks to his guns and avoids getting too experimental with his music. That approach can stifle others’ work at times, but Black Milk’s execution is nice to see. The most experimental he gets is chopping a sample and running it backward on “Action,” which features Slum Village members of past and present.
The now classic line from Little Brother’s Phonte “Dope beats, dope rhymes, what more do y’all want?” is no more relevant and truthful than when applied to Popular Demand. With the first half of 2007 proving disappointing for hip-hop, this bright spot may end up one of the year’s best.