AOTY 2023
Danger Mouse & Black Thought - Cheat Codes
Critic Score
Based on 26 reviews
2022 Ratings: #59 / 807
Year End Rank: #16
User Score
2022 Ratings: #9
Liked by 903 people
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The Arts Desk

Ultimately, the thing that sets Cheat Codes apart is focus. There’s simply no filler. No point at which the quality – or the energy – drops.

The Observer
Razor-sharp US rapper Black Thought and his one-time acolyte, now super-producer, Danger Mouse, finally get it together on an album that’s a nonstop joy.
Northern Transmissions
The soul, jazz, old school R&B and blues samples are fantastic. It sets a really cool tone that isn’t pretentious and it isn’t overbearing, it’s smooth, charismatic and easy to gravitate to.

While Cheat Codes sometimes walks the tight-rope of being another installment in the Streams of Thought series, it’s still a lesson in supreme lyricism and pristine production that should have any aspiring MC/producer combo aspiring to get on their level.

The crisp if soot-coated drums, smeared strings, moaning organs, and gnarled guitars are all very compatible with Thought, who scythes through it all with unparalleled wordplay delivered with surgical precision.

As enjoyable as it is to see Black Thought show his chemistry with a myriad of different producers, I believe that Black Thought and Danger Mouse have created something special here and can continue projects as virtuoso as Cheat Codes.

Spill Magazine

Black Thought and Danger Mouse have curated a collection of twelve fantastic songs, geared towards old-school rap fans, and filled them with verses from a community of rappers that you need to hear; ultimately making Cheat Codes a vital album for the genre and for the culture of hip-hop.


Danger Mouse provides the right kind of support without trying to steal the spotlight, and engineers a smooth album flow that recalls the more cohesive Streams of Thought, Vol. 2 over its more scattershot siblings.


Cheat Codes stands as Black Thought's most fully fleshed-out and accessible non-Roots project to date. Despite not veering too far outside his comfort zone or breaking any new ground, it holds the perfect blend of accessibility and complexity, supported by an energetic cast of guests.

Loud and Quiet

Cheat Codes is a timely reminder of what two great hip hop minds can achieve when they put their heads together.


Flogged into focus by multi-genre producer Danger Mouse, ‘Cheat Codes’ is Black Thought’s most complete project to date.

The Guardian

Contemplating everything from hip-hop to the human condition, the ebullient and long-awaited collaboration is awash with cinematic beats and vivid rhymes.

Cheat Codes finds Danger Mouse rolling with a new lyrical foil and this one feels like it could run and run.

Danger Mouse's illustrious production CV is a big draw ... but it's his classy discretion in play here, giving plenty of space for Black Thought.

Crack Magazine

Serving up a typically soulful backdrop to Thought’s lyrical assaults, Cheat Codes is loaded with the kind of colourful production we’ve come to expect from Danger Mouse.

The Needle Drop

Surprising no one, Black Thought and Danger Mouse are a match made in heaven.

This long-awaited album arrives as a tribute to a whole scene rather than just two artists.
The generationally-acclaimed modern greats are at their best on a long-awaited collaboration that constantly delights.
Evening Standard
Densely layered and sophisticated, these tracks immediately feel like familiar favourites.
Beats Per Minute

Cheat Codes captures the glory of rap’s classic era and brings it to the present through thick mesmerizing samples and the rapper’s incredible vernacular.

Spectrum Culture
A record full of timeless production and memorable rhymes.
Under the Radar

It’s evident that the producer-rapper duo complement each other’s work and by featuring other artists, elevate the rappers around them. Because of this, Cheat Codes isn’t just an album for old hip-hop heads – it’s a timeless record that celebrates all artists.

After nearly two decades of on-off collaborations, the veteran musicians finally reach the finish line with their first full-length together, yielding a dozen tracks of solid, bare-bones hip-hop.
Rolling Stone
The Roots rapper and super producer deliver lush beats and bring on some high-end guests. But Black Thought’s genius sometimes gets a little buried in the mix.
The Irish Times
An impressively star-studded collaboration, but not the modern classic they set out to make.

Yeah I mean this is great. Natural, clean samples turned into groovy pleasant beats. Bars for days. S TIER features such as Run The Jewels, and an AMAZING posthumous Doom feature

It’s a recipe for a great rap album


After the great singles, I really didn’t have any doubts that this was going to be good. In some ways, it feels like a love letter to Hip-Hop Heads. Combining an incredible yet underrated producer with a respected rapper, that I think most would agree is one of the greatest to ever do it. But they don’t stop at that, they also got legends of the rap game. Run The Jewels, Raekwon, Conway and DOOM all come through with great bars, making this record all that much more noteworthy. Even ... read more


when Cheat Codes flourishes into a modern classic imma be sitting here telling y’all i told u so

Black Thought is, in my opinion, one of the best lyricists of all time. from doing the Time: The Donut of the Heart beat justice in ‘06 to his legendary 10 min freestyle, only a select few emcees have a candle to hold to Black Thought. therefore it blows my mind that he hasn’t started his solo career until now. better late than never i guess but holy shit this album is something ... read more


This is so damn good


fire production, fire features, bars on bars on bars, RIP Doom


Black Thought's rapping is talented and sounds like something that wouldn't even come out of the 2000s. sounds purely like something some 90's rapper would bring to the table and sounds very old school, gritty, and something that Nas would sound great on, even in his recent works in the past few years. Danger Mouse's use of samples, production, drums, and the lyrics on this project on Black Thought's side absolutely kick ass. features are utilized amazingly and they don't overfill the project. ... read more

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Added on: October 21, 2020