Release Date: Oct 28, 2008
Record label: Fatbeats
Hip-hop producer and recording artist Curtis Cross (a.k.a. Black Milk) cannot be contained. There are so many ideas cascading from his third solo album that it’s difficult to keep pace with the clattering drum samples, steely electronica and wildly manipulated vocals, all just tiny facets of the Black Milk universe. By the time you hit track four, the infernally catchy “Without U,” it’s time to return to the beginning of the record to see what your brain didn’t process during the first three songs.Opening cut “Long Story Short” is a perfect example of Cross’s ability to match cutthroat beats with a few killer samples and a cocksure vocal delivery.
Since he made his debut on Slum Village's 2002 album Trinity, Detroit producer/MC Black Milk has benefited from an avalanche of music press and message board praise, all with good reason. His 2008 full-length maintains the same quality control, the same sense of adventure, and the same charismatic plus cocksure attitude found on previous releases, but he's never sounded sharper, in every sense of the word. As cyber-funk as its title suggests, Tronic -- and the pre-release mixtape was called Elec -- is ripe with brittle beats, tight hooks, tighter samples, and those great pro-Detroit, street-swaggering lyrics that so often get overlooked in favor of the man's productions.
Having shown enormous promise as an inventive beatmaker who can handle a microphone (although none of that's translated into unit sales), Black Milk is reaching the make-or-break point with the highly-anticipated Tronic. While the production is tight, it's not going to cause rival producers to sell their samplers and look for jobs in air conditioning repair. And once Black Milk is finished dealing with the sorry state of hip-?hop, haters and the old art-vs.-commerce question, he quickly runs out of relevant rhymes as if nothing worth discussing were happening in politics, race relations, religion, individual rights, the economy or the environment at the moment.
It seems like every other year rap/hip-hop take a year off. And I’m not really sure why this happens, but then again, everyone reading this will state that I’m out of my mind and point me in the direction of ten supposed good hip-hop albums. Now, if those are ‘good,’ then Black Milk’s Tronic is spectacular. But the bottom line is regardless of what everyone else’s opinion is of the year in hip-hop for 2008, this new album by the 25-year old Detroit native is easily the best hip-hop album to be released this year.