Cypress Hill – “Back in Black” review

This is the 10th full-length album from South Gate’s very own Cypress Hill. Consisting of B-Real & Sen Dog on the mic as well as DJ Muggs on the boards & Eric Bobo on percussion, the quarter would take the west coast by storm a little over 3 decades back off their eponymous full-length debut with Muggs’ unique production style & their pro-marijuana legalization themes. Other standouts in the group’s discography include Black Sunday, my personal favorite Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, the criminally underappreciated Cypress Hill IV & even their last one Elephants on Acid. But with the 4 year anniversary of the latter coming up in the fall & since DJ Muggs has been busy fully producing projects for other people ranging from Rome Streetz to more recently Rigz, they’re bringing in Detroit veteran Black Milk to produce Back in Black.

“Takeover” is an energetic opener talking about the return of the group on top of a cloudy boom bap instrumental whereas “Open Ya Mind” goes into a funkier direction celebrating weed being legal in their home-state. Demrick comes into the picture for the groovy “Certified” rightfully bragging about their legacies just before the Dizzy Wright-assisted “Bye Bye” pensively details the warzone that is the hood & the drums are so goddamn dusty.

Meanwhile on “Come with Me”, we have Cypress Hill coming through with a decent homage to the iconic Outlawz joint “Hail Mary” leading into “The Original” taking a funky boom bap route to talk about being OGs in this shit. “Hit ‘Em” finds B-Real & Sen Dog on top of some hi-hats to get anthemic while the song “Break of Dawn” works in a guitar talking about never stopping. The penultimate track “Champion Sound” mixes some elements of trip hop & digital dancehall to declare themselves champs, but then “The Ride” ends the album by jumping on top of a vibraphone & some bongos to tell the story of a crack dealer.

Now for all the fans who weren’t really fucking with Rise Up, then you’re gonna like Back in Black a lot more. In fact, I think it’s one of the best albums that Cypress has put together yet. After all the experimenting that they did on Elephants on Acid, they manage to get one of Detroit’s greatest producers to take them back to their roots & succeeding.

Score: 4/5

Ketch P – “Untitled” review

Ketch P is a 40 year old MC from Inkster, Michigan who started off as part of the quartet Street Justice. He eventually went solo & put out 3 mixtapes in the late 2000s, but Ketch took a hiatus in 2013 & returned last fall by dropping the fantastic comeback tape Gift Certificate under Middle Finger Music. This was followed up a couple months ago with the full-length Out of Nowhere but almost 3 months later, he’s surprise-dropping an untitled EP that he recorded with Black Milk about a decade ago.

Things start off with “Barricade ’08”, where Ketch spits about being the livest over soulful beat. “The Virus” with Guilty Simpson sees the 2 comparing their music to that of a sickness over a grimy instrumental while the song “Grind Mode” talks about hustling over a suspenseful boom bap beat. The penultimate track “Shut the Phuck Up!!” sends a message to all the haters out there over an instrumental with some beautiful background vocals talks about & then the closer “My Detroit” with eLZhi & Trick-Trick finds the trio paying tribute to their hometown over a churchy beat.

Man even though the material on here is 10 years old, it sounds like they made it earlier this year because these joints in 2020 still sound really good. Black Milk kills it on the boards as he usually does & Ketch P’s lyricism is just as raw as he is today. Looking forward to the albums he has with Bad News Brown & 2 Door Coupé.

Score: 4/5

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

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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