Release Date: Jun 14, 2011
Record label: Duck Down Music
Genre(s): Rap, Underground Rap
Thanks to its low-gloss boom-bap and blinkered, stream-of-consciousness flows, ornery rap nerds will inevitably compare Random Axe to hip-hop's "golden age"—"if this came out in '95, it'd be a classic!" But that's a reductionist view: Axe was released in 2011, and it's a clinic in meticulously penned rappin' ass rap. Sean Price, Black Milk, and Guilty Simpson, each an underground veteran in his own right, join forces to trade darkly humorous anti-pop bars over Black's dizzying loops. Imagine a Men of a Certain Age rap album: "Sean Price with an aped up rage, no Myspace, Twitter, or Facebook page," the 39-year-old grunts on "Japhy Joe.
Let me guess: You were wondering where Guilty Simpson’s been since his 2008 debut LP (well, he did do OJ Simpson with Madlib in 2010). You’ve wondered why Sean Price has mostly seemed transparent lately, even on the Heltah Skeltah reunion LP two years ago. And you wondered how Black Milk went from perfect to overambitious in just one move when Album of the Year proved overwhelming.
A group featuring the lords of the hip-hop underground, Random Axe combine the talents of Detroiters Black Milk and Guilty Simpson plus New York City artist Sean Price. For the ringtone rappers and the club dons of 2011 that must sound like the ultimate terror squad, but this self-titled debut isn’t so ambitious. Even with all the bravado, declarations of war, and muscle-flexing rhymes, Random Axe are in-house and, in many ways, insider with cult figures like Fat Ray and Trick Trick handling the guest shots while producer Black Milk provides the deep soul hooks and the crooked beats.
The assembly of Random Axe—the supergroup trio of Detroiters Black Milk and Guilty Simpson, and NYC’s Sean Price—was announced in 2008, but a lot has happened between then and now. Sean Price’s thug-ready music hasn’t changed much, but Guilty Simpson waded in semi-experimental waters by dropping the OJ Simpson album with the envelope-pushing Madlib. Black Milk has produced nearly half a dozen projects since that time, retooling his soul-sampling sound into an amalgam of electronic influences and live instrumentation.
Random Axe, a hip-hop supergroup teaming Brooklyn's Sean Price with Detroit's Guilty Simpson and Black Milk, was announced in 2008. When Pitchfork spoke to Milk two years ago, he said Random Axe's debut album was 80% complete, which means either a) the group left a number of old tunes on the cutting floor and started nearly from scratch or b) it really took them 24 months to hash out one-fifth of an album. Random Axe is officially here, but it doesn't sound like the kind of product sprung from years of work.
Back in 2009, Sean Price, Black Milk and Guilty Simpson formed a lyrically vicious and sonically strong outfit, known as Random Axe, when they released “Monster Babies. ” Two years later, their completely Black Milk produced self-titled opus finally hits eardrums, offering forceful lyrics over light flutes, choppy keys and thumping bass. The project feels unified, and the three artists mesh well with one another throughout.