BLACK MILK – If There’s A Hell Below

black-milk-if-theres-a-hell-belowIf there is one thing that annoys me in hip hop, it is IGNORANCE. In this day & age, if you listen to Jay-Z, you are labeled a follower of the dreaded ‘I-word.’ Anything associated with him for example, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West… according to ignorance, you are supporting the I-word.

Why am I starting the review like this? Good question, and one I can answer. when you look at the artwork of the recent album covers by Jay or Kanye, it sparks off that ignorance in people. Now you have an idea of where I’m going… if Kanye’s next album resembled anything like what’s pictured left, gums would be flapping. So the question is: Why doesn’t anyone say the same thing for Black Milk? Is it because he’s not as well-known? He doesn’t have the money that Jay has? See what I did there? I just exposed the haters and ignorant humans. The same haters who ‘hate’ Jay-Z are bumping this album right here without batting an eye-lid. It’s all up in their iPhone6, their Samsung Galaxy, their iTunes on their devices. I caught you all out! APOLOGIZE!

If There’s A Hell Below is the follow-up from No Poison No Paradise. Black Milk has stated that this continues from where …No Paradise left off and follows the same principles, as in it combines elements from his previous albums ‘Popular Demand’, ‘Tronic’ & ‘Album Of The Year’ so expect some bangers with more experimental cuts from the Detroit producer/MC.

‘Everybody Was’ serves as the album’s intro, imagine Black Milk’s trademark sounds combined with the chanting that was found in Redman’s Muddy Waters, then Black Milk goes into life before rap was on the internet. He has a knack for bringing out lesser known vocalists, showing that you don’t need to seek major artists to feature to make your tunes sound good. This one only known as ‘Mel’, compliments with the hook…

…and for ‘What It’s Worth’, this is the lead single from the album, the striking thing you notice is that it is more mellow but maintains a fast flow than No Paradise’s Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst which had EPIC written all over it.

Everything collaboration Black does with AB is gold… AB has appeared on every album since Tronic. On ‘Leave The Bones Behind’ Featuring Blu, the magic is recreated beautifully just like it did on ‘Oh Girl’, ‘Parallels’ and ‘Take Control’ from Fat Ray’s The Set Up. Just don’t compare this to ‘RePPiN 4 You’… that’s just mean!

Black Milk hits a historic moment in this track. Ever since 5th grade, all he wanted was a piece of the pie… for Pete Rock to appear on ‘Quarter Water’, is like getting to see the pope… Imagine a hip hop pioneer lacing a verse on your project.. it must be a mind-blowing experience for Black to comprehend.

Black enters his Hell Below ‘interlude’ early…. maybe to recover from the last track and the impact it had on him. Black takes the Nat Turner track – ‘Sweetest Thing’, chops the samples up as only he can, brings in some live trumpets and trombones.  No bars needed, just zone out to the music.

Switching gears now Black has entered his experimental mode by presenting ‘Detroit’s New Dance ShoBlack Milkw’. Upon first hearing of this, unless your music taste is eclectic there is a good chance you will ask what’s up… but then you’ll say Word Up! Your feet will uncontrollably hit that dance floor! The question remains: This will bounce in Detroit, but what about other jams? Will DJs break that fourth wall and get people bouncing?

So let’s say your dance moves at the Detroit show catches the eye of the opposite sex? This is Black Milk’s ‘Story and Her’. Black goes into storytelling of a high school crush and wonders if those fantasizes persist years later when he sees her in a club… the change in beat mid-way through explains how he actually got the girl, but it doesn’t sound like the fantasy he pictured went down well as he can’t remember much…worse than that, the girl isn’t waking up… was her drink spiked?

Black bounces back with the viciousness on ‘All Mighty’, bringing forth Melanie Rutherford who appeared on the epic finale ‘Bond 4 Life’ from the Tronic album. It’s good to see Random Axe make their appearance on this album, and Black’s production is in fact – Random.  In the track ‘Scum’, Black switches to a random beat for each MC – himself, Sean Price & Guilty Simpson. It sounds odd at first, but it WORKS.

Black & Bun B send for their ‘Gold Piece’, and it’s a wonderful feeling to hear that sample from Ghostface Killah’s Apollo Kids. Following the short interlude that’s recognized from …No Paradise, Black enters his ‘Grey Summer’. Over such a haunting beat, Black speaks on the harsh realities of how it goes down in Detroit’s summer months, and just like that, he’s ‘Up & Out’… switching up the statement Raekwon first made in ‘Heaven & Hell’, according to Black, If There’s a Hell Below, then we already in it…

This is a significant improvement over the previous album. …No Paradise’s main problem was the consistency was lacking because its best track was the single Black released months prior to it’s release – Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst, and even with great tracks, they couldn’t live up to that epicness. Black has learnt from this and has put together a more rounded project. Black will continue to experiment musically throughout his career, and as much as he appreciates the compliment, he just wants to be – BLACK MILK and not be J Dilla’s shadow.



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