Fat Ray – “Santa Barbara” review

Fat Ray is a 39 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan who came up as a member of the trio B.R. Gunna alongside Black Milk & Young RJ. He would eventually go solo in 2008 by dropping the criminally slept-on The Set Up, but it wouldn’t be until a full decade later when it was followed with both The Lunch Room mixtape & then his sophomore effort Perseus. However out of nowhere, Ray has seen fit to drop his 3rd full-length album.

The title track that kicks the album off talks about being happy to be back on his shit over a jazzy boom bap beat from Raphy, who produced all 3 joints on the entire thing. The next song “Flight Risk / Plead the 5th” gets on the gangsta rap tip over an instrumental, that starts off jazzy, but later switches up into a bare soul sample. The track “Menacing” talks about going to war if you want it over a beat that sounds like something RZA would’ve made for Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) while the cleverly-titled “Ethan Hunt” makes references to the Mission: Impossible franchise over a more chilled out instrumental.

The track “Jordan vs. Bird” gets on his mob shit over a boom bap beat with a dark atmosphere to it while the song “Dopeman Heaven” with Danny Brown finds the 2 talking about slanging drugs over a Black Milk instrumental with some downcast keyboard melodies. The track “Old Faithful” with Bruiser Wolf sees the duo talking about being fresh to death over a sleek beat while the song “Top Ramen” talks about not having much coming up over a psychedelic instrumental.

The track “Bar Smithing / Off-Safety” shows off his lyricism & the beat once again has that vintage Wu-Tang feel at the start, but it switches up into something more apprehensive. “The One” talks about how everyone wants to be that guy over a Crisfantom instrumental that’s clearly inspired by the late J Dilla while the penultimate track “The Sword” talks about being the 2nd level of crazy over an otherworldly beat. The album ends with “Mental Case”, where Ray talks about his homie Kutty over some harmonious vocal melodies.

This dude is a true hometown veteran & Santa Barbara is yet another example of that. Raphy’s production is on point & lyrically, he legitimately does continue to be the hungriest MC in the world.

Score: 3.5/5

Black Milk – “DiVE” review

Black Milk is a 35 year old rapper, songwriter & producer from Detroit, Michigan that came up as a member of the B.R. Gunna production trio. He eventually went solo in 2005 with Sound of the City, which was followed up in 2007 with Popular Demand. The following year, he would dabble with electronic music on Tronic & would later start incorporating live instrumentation on Album of the Year in 2010. His next album No Poison No Paradise eventually became Black Milk’s darkest work yet & it would see a solid sequel If There’s a Hell Below the year after. We saw a comeback form him last year with the politically charged FEVER & a little over a year later, Black Milk’s delivering a sequel with his 4th EP.

It all starts with “Save Yourself”, where Black Milk talks about friendship over a mellow beat. The next song “Black NASA” talks about self-empowerment over an atmospheric beat while the track “If U Say” talks about staying true to yourself over a meditative beat. The song “Relate (Want 2 Know)” with sees Black Milk & his younger brother Mahd talking about depression over a somber instrumental while the track “Blame” gets romantic over a smooth instrumental.

The song “Swimm” is a meditative cut based around the idiom “sink or swim” while the track right after is an Flying Lotus influenced instrumental piece. The song “Don’t Say” talks about fake love over a druggy beat while the track “Out Loud” serves as a psychedelic instrumental interlude. The penultimate track “Tyme” talks about just that over a glitchy beat & then the EP finishes with the synth heavy “Now Begin” instrumental piece.

While only 35 minutes long, I think it’s a fantastic as FEVER. The lyrics are just as smart as the predecessor & the production is equally soothing.

Score: 4/5

Black Milk – “FEVER” review

a3738766776_10.jpg

A little over 3 years after the release of If There’s a Hell Below renown Detroit producer Black Milk is finally returning with his 7th full-length album. The opener “unVEil” speaks on living for the moment over a luscious neo psychedelic beat & the next track “But I Can Be” gets insightful over a laidback beat. The track “Could It Be” reflects where he started & where he’s at now over a soulful funky boom bap beat while the song “2 Would Try” vents to an unnamed ex-girlfriend over a smooth jazzy instrumental. The track “Laugh Now Cry Later” talks about how Black Milk sees the world differently nowadays over funky boom bap beat with a luring soul sample & the song “True Lies” gets conscious over a mellow funk rock instrumental.

After the “eVE” interlude, we then get into the next song “Drown”. Here, Black Milk touches down on the ghetto life over a settle guitar & bassline. The track “DiVE” is just an instrumental track with a beautiful flute with some laid-back guitar, keyboards & synthesizers during the second half. The song “Foe Friend” vividly tells the story of 2 friends who eventually fall out with each other over mellow beat & the track “Will Remain” gets ambitious over a funky beat. The closer “You Like to Risk It All / Things Will Never Be the Same” may have a mediocre auto-tune hook, but Black Milk’s compelling story suits the beat perfectly.

Personally, this is up with Popular Demand & Tronic for Black Milk’s magnum opus. The production is probably his most organic & the lyrics are lot smarter than ever before

Score: 4/5