Dangerous Thoughts – “Cheat Codes” review

Dangerous Thoughts is an MC/producer duo consisting of Danger Mouse behind the boards & Black Thought on the mic. 1 has an impressive resume of artists he’s worked with in the past ranging from Prince Po to the late MF DOOM & the other is one of the most acclaimed lyricists in all of hip hop. They initially formed in 2006 & when it seemed like we were never gonna get a full-length debut from them, the day has now come 16 years later.

“Sometimes” is a symphonic, soulful opener talking about thinking of a master plan à la The God MC himself Rakim Allah whereas the title track is a robotic boom bap cut boasting that he’s playing unlimited free throws. Raekwon tags along for the piano/soul-tinged “The Darkest Part” to talk about being in another echelon just before “No Gold Teeth” samples “Stop” by Hugh Masakela promising to never retire.

Meanwhile on “Because”, we have Joey Bada$$ & Russ accompanying Thought in describing the harsh realities of America with a guitar driven instrumental as well as a passionate Dylan Cartlidge hook leading into the rugged “Belize” seeing DANGERDOOM coming together potentially for the last time to assist in some battle raps. “Aquamarine” blends abstract with neo-soul confessing the conflict between him as a person & his status in hip hop, but then “Identical Deaths” brings some xylophones to the table talking about living many lives.

A$AP Rocky & Run the Jewels come into the picture for the hardcore “Strangers” to call out the bluff of those who dare to step up to them lyrically while the song “Close to Famous” almost gives me J Dilla vibes sonically talking about that’s how everyone be nowadays. The penultimate track “Saltwater” with Conway the Machine is a tense boom bap heater delivering some rugged ass bars only for the organ-laced “Violas & Lupitas” ending the album talking about doing God’s work.

For this being 16 years in the making & finally having it in the palm of our hands, it was much well worth it. Danger Mouse’s production is more sample-based than Sean Cane’s was on Streams of Thought 3: Cain & Able, the features all come correct (I don’t even mind Russ on “Because”) & Thought lyrically is just doing what he’s been doing best from the very moment he picked up a mic.

Score: 4.5/5

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Black Thought – “Streams of Thought 3: Cain & Abel” review

Black Thought is a MC from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania most notable as the frontman of The Roots. Since the very beginning of his career, Black Thought has solidified himself as one of the most skilled & well respected lyricists in all of hip hop from his work with the band or his lengthy list of show-stopping features. However, it wouldn’t be until 2018 when he finally started putting out projects under his own name with the 9th Wonder-produced Streams of Thought & the Salaam Remi-produced Streams of Thought 2: Traxploitation. But just about 2 years later, Black Thought is enlisting Sean Cane for the long-awaited 3rd installment.

The EP kicks off with “I’m Not Crazy (First Contact)”, where Black Thought completely shits on Christopher Columbus in complete reverb over a slow guitar-laced beat. The next song “State Prisoner” talks about needing each other for survival over a dynamic instrumental with some choir vocals during the first half while the track “Good Morning” with Killer Mike & Pusha T finds the trio talking about the struggles African Americans face along with ego-trip over an apocalyptic beat. The song “Magnificent” boasts his lyrical prowess over a funky instrumental with some live drums & after the “Experience” interlude, the track “Quiet Trip” reminisces about the old times over an fiery beat.

The song “Nature of the Beast” talks about how everyone in this country is all going through the same shit over an instrumental with some well incorporated synths while the track “We Could Be Good (United)” talks about this woman who complains all the time over a sensual boom bap beat. The song “Steak Um” with ScHoolboy Q finds the 2 talking about oppression over an instrumental with a haunting atmosphere to it while the track “Thought vs. Everybody” talks about being the most powerful black man in America over a funky beat. The “Ghetto Boys & Girls” interlude talks about coming from nothing over a spacious instrumental whereas the final song “Fuel” reads as a power open letter to the listener over a gospel-esque beat. Then for the outro, it’s just a decent reprise of the intro.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this one going into this but coming away from it, it’s a solid listen. Sean Cane’s production being a bit more glossier than the last 2 EPs were but that doesn’t hold it back at all as Black Thought provides a unique perspective on a wide range of topics on here, further cementing himself as one of the greatest MCs of all-time. Really looking forward to see what’s in store for the 4th installment.

Score: 3.5/5

Black Thought – “Streams of Thought 2: Traxploitation” review

Black Thought is a legendary 47 year old MC from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania most notable for being the frontman of The Roots. Fans were been wanting some sort of solo project for a long time now (especially after his iconic Hot 97 freestyle this past winter) & did just that earlier this summer by dropping a flawless EP with The Soul Council called Streams of Thought. Now if that isn’t enough for you, he’s officially following it up except with Salaam Remi producing it in it’s entirety.

The EP kicks off with “Fentanyl”, where Thought compares his skills to the drug over a gloomy beat. The next track “Soundtrack for Confusion” gets conscious over some live drumming & a bass guitar while the song “Get Outlined” talks about the rough life in Philly over the same instruments that popped up on the previous joint. The track “History Unfolds” is filled with angry battle bars over a sinister guitar while the song “How to Hold a Choppa” is about teaching the youth to defend themselves over a minimalist instrumental with a prominent saxophone. The track “The New Grit” brags about his rapping prowess over a funky guitar & more live drumming while the song “Liveth” goes back to the vicious battle bars with a smooth instrumental. The penultimate track “Streets” continues the theme of the last joint over a menacing boom bap beat & then the closer “Conception” talks about fame, race & religion over a soulful instrumental.

While this is a fantastic EP, it’s not better than the first one. I can appreciate Black Thought for holding it down on his own & for it being longer than the predecessor, but I would’ve loved to hear a different featured MC on a track or 2. However, that doesn’t stop Thought from continuing to prove himself as one of the illest MCs of all-time. Here’s to Vol. 3 (if planned).

Score: 4/5

Black Thought – “Streams of Thought” review

Black Thought is a legendary 46 year old MC from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania most notable for being the frontman of The Roots. Fans have been wanting some sort of solo project for a long time now (especially after his iconic Hot 97 freestyle this past winter) & he is now delivering an EP with the help of The Soul Council.

The opener “215” talks about growing up in Philly over an upbeat instrumental & the next track “Black vs. 9th” talks about self-evaluation over some punchy drums. The song “Dostoyevsky” with Rapsody sees the 2 talking about the judicial system over a nice boom bap beat while the penultimate track “Making a Murderer” with Styles P pretty much speaks for itself over a menacing instrumental. This magnum opus then finishes off perfectly with “Thank You”, where Black gets grateful for how his life turned out over a soulful beat.

It’s been long overdue, but we finally got an official solo project from Black Thought & it’s perfect. His lyricism is sharp & intelligent as expected & The Soul Council’s production gives them a flawless backing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a follow-up soon given that it’s labeled “Vol. 1”, but I’m all for it

Score: 5/5