This site was founded
years ago by broke slaves as a way for me point out what’s good and bad about music. A sort of written form of the “did you hear _? Well what’d you think of it?” conversation. So my intention isn’t to provide consumer-centric reviews, but I would like to stay somewhat current. But because I can’t manage to work on it religiously, and because there’s just so much hip-hop to digest, it ends up being a log of the semi-random albums that I am playing at any moment in time. Case in point: Black Milk released If There’s a Hell Below only a month and change ago, yet I’m writing about his album from October last year, No Poison No Paradise. I do plan on getting to the new album, but knowing me, that won’t happen until sometime next year. Currency is overrated!
So, No Poison No Paradise. That cover looks like a dope-ass Dr. Seuss nightmare that I can’t wait to dissect whenever I write more about this album. The album starts with a song that I’ve fallen in love with, Interpret Sabotage. Black Milk’s thumping drums build a sonic foundation along with a low buzzing that serves as a bass line, while a wall of synths and bongos and other sounds conspire with the low end to envelop my head in a dense warmth no blanket could ever compete with. In other words, this is my shit!
In the past, one of my two complaints with Black Milk were that his beats were great (especially the production of his drums) but too similar. Now, while I can’t say that I love every beat here, most are good, and none have that specific problem. My other complaint was that his lyrics got the job done but needed much more flair to effectively draw interest. Well, consider that issue deaded as well. On Interpret Sabotage he plays with the rhythm of his lines so masterfully that it’s impossible for either of the verses to drag at all. The instrumental is very fast-paced and Black sometimes raps just as quick but he also pauses for effect enough to allow my ears time to catch up. In fact, I actually felt let down when he finished, only because I wanted more rapping. A 3.5 minute song that ends too early is quite an accomplishment.
While the rest of No Poison hasn’t hit me quite as hard as Interpret Sabotage, most of the songs are very good in their own ways. The trilogy of Sunday’s Best, Monday’s Worst, and Perfected on Puritan Ave. is especially commendable for its extended storytelling that skips across multiple interacting perspectives. A lot No Poison‘s songs require more time for digestion than I’ve given them so far, but I do have an idea of the album’s overall direction. It seems to be about the duality of life in the struggle: that the bad things in life must be accepted or at least dealt with in order for the good to exist or be reached. Many rappers have clumsily failed to convey duality but I think Black Milk might be the right guy to pull it off.
No Poison No Paradise is probably Black Milk’s best work yet, including his later EP, Glitches in the Break (which was just decent to me), but excluding If There’s a Hell Below, which I haven’t heard yet. It’s cohesive theme and improved beats and rhymes scream quality to me. It really seems like he took his time with this album.