Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Black Milk ft. Royce Da 5’9 and Elzhi – Deadly Medley

So, after all yesterday’s excitement, time to calm things down a little. Here’s a bloke on a roof…


Jonathan Bogart: Nine points for sounding like Black Star back when that was something to be proud of. One point for the FUCKING AIR HORN placed randomly throughout. Give me a remix with that shit cut out and I’ll play this to my grave.

John Seroff: Dilla homage dissonance based on a monster Memphis funk track that may not necessarily improve on the original but doesn’t take anything away from the cratedug classic. Robust, cogent verses from all three MCs don’t hurt. “Deadly Medley” is notably better in comparison to any current radio rap, but ultimately holds its own by any standard.

Katie Lewis: I really feel like if they had put that Blackrock sample to better use here, it would have made up some for the pretty average rap fare.

Martin Skidmore: I like this a lot – the beats are odd but compelling, punchy drums and funk guitar shapes, and the rapping is excellent, with loads of strong lines and an insistent flow throughout. I’m surprised to find myself thinking that BM’s verse is the best, given that I’ve always really liked Royce. (By the way, well worth reading the lyrics here, with popup explanations.)

Jer Fairall: Nas-circa-Illmatic-style delivery, a languid riff that sounds like it might have been sampled from one of The Numero Group’s obscure classic funk excavations, quips like “my shit is Martin Luther / your shit is Martin Lawrence” — this is pretty much exactly where I like my hip hop to be. If my enthusiasm for this winds up being a bit more tepid than it reasonably should be, I can only think to blame my until-now ignorance of Black Milk: I feel like I’m hearing a representative song by an artist I’d probably like, rather than a standout track in its own right.

Zach Lyon: Every Black Milk track I’ve heard has been great the first time through, simply on the strength of his production. And he’s an awesome producer, with his long samples put under a kind of cold percussion that sounds distinctly Detroit. But he isn’t much of a rapper or writer, and the tracks wear off once you get over the concept of the beat. The features here almost save it, but it still feels like it’s missing something.

Asher Steinberg: Black Milk really needs to quit with the ultra-generic bragging. If you’re an underground rapper from Detroit whose big commercial achievement is a distinguished producer’s album that topped off at #76 on the R&B Chart, it seems delusional to claim that people are watching your every move like The Truman Show, or that this very song is the most legendary thing since Thriller. It’s like lying about the color of your socks. People always want to get excited every time a moderately decent song comes out that hearkens back to the golden days when rappers solely rapped about what great rappers they were, and called themselves MCs, and beatboxed and spun around on their heads and wore cool gold chains in Pan-African tribute to the motherland, but Rakim, Kool Keith, Kane, Nas, KRS, Posdnuos and Guru never made rapping sound like it was a blue-collar vocation, like auto working or carpentry. They were great not because they subscribed to some real hip-hop ideology, but simply because they were great, fun rappers. These guys rap with the consummate workaday professionalism and pride of someone sticking a nail into a 4X4 with a hammer. 8 for the beat, 4 for the all-too-undeadly rapping, but 6 for Elzhi’s verse, as he sounds a little like DJ Quik and is way less somnolent than the other two.

Josh Langhoff: Least Deadly: Elzhi, who ends the song with the anti-climactic “piano key”. Most Deadliest: Royce Da Conversationalist, unbeholden to the beat, with a wild doubletime triplet spiel AND a plan for getting the dishes done. Dead and Gone, Apparently: The Hook. Love the cascading snares and kick drums every couple bars, though.

Alfred Soto: Not bad, but hardly deadly.

8 Responses to “Black Milk ft. Royce Da 5’9 and Elzhi – Deadly Medley”

  1. Yeah, the lack of a hook hurts this… and I actually think Elzhi is kinda the weakest one here by a margin. Like, Royce just annihilates this.

  2. asher nailed this. id give a [9] to the beat tho

  3. Thanks David. Yeah I mean I kind of ripped off what you said on your tumblr.

  4. And yes, Royce, technically speaking, kills this, but in the same dull yelling-punchlines-at-the-beat way that explains the moribundity of Canibus’s recording career.

  5. I liked the first Canibus album, but I haven’t heard the others, so maybe if I heard the others I’d understand better what you’re saying. Royce didn’t sound dull to me! I could see saying about “Lose Yourself” (for example) that Eminem technically kills it but in a dull way. (I don’t actually think that, but I’d understand the argument.) I could maybe see saying that about Milk and Elzhi here, if I weren’t too lazy to go back and listen again. But Royce makes himself sound so loose and spontaneous here, except for the triplet part, which sounds totally premeditated but is great anyway, that I don’t understand the accusation of dullness. It’s an interesting critique, anyway. Related to your blue collar analogy up top, I assume?

  6. But also — and I hope this doesn’t come off too glib — if Royce is dull, maybe we need a new definition of “killing this.”

  7. Yeah, I don’t think Royce is doing anything similar to Canibus’ dull yelling-punchlines-at-the-beat thing here. He’s ignoring the beat for most of his verse, but it’s really loose, like Josh said, and feels really exciting, especially compared to the Black Milk and Elzhi.

  8. No, I don’t actually think Royce’s verse is that blue-collar, just… dated.