Black Thought has easily had one of the best feature runs of the past year. Education, Crowns for the Kings, Yah Yah, Hustle Don’t Give, Ishkabibble’s: I was convinced this man couldn’t miss. The two singles for this record were the incredibly hard-hitting Good Morning with great features from Pusha T and Killer Mike and the track Thought vs Everybody which was full of food for thought and had a nice 90s Roots throwback with the instrumental. These are 2 of the year’s best hip-hop singles. Needless to say, I was obviously hyped going into this record. Now that I’ve finished this, I have to say, I’m kinda disappointed.
I know what you’re thinking. I liked it, how could I be disappointed? Well, everything was pointing to this album being one of the best albums of the year, but instead, we just get this: a good record but sadly not the hip-hop classic I was hoping for. The most consistent thing about this record is probably the production. It ranges from hard-hitting like on Streak Um or the aforementioned Good Morning to incredibly reminiscent of 90s hip hop on tracks like Thought vs Everybody and Magnificent to even kind of beautiful on We Could Be Good. Nothing is horribly produced here and the worst moments just have forgettable production. Black Thought’s pen game is present here, too. His lyrical style is incredibly versatile, ranging from a lot of food for thought to some wisdom to some great storytelling.
So, I’m praising this album so much, why do I say I’m disappointed? Well… this album feels kinda inconsistent. For every amazing song, there’s one that’s forgettable or straight-up bad. Schoolboy Q really underplays his feature on Streak Um. The pitched down vocals on the intro and outro to this album sound REALLY awkward and the two tracks are just super messy as a whole. Magnificent, while not inherently bad, I really tuned out while listening to this song. I’m not necessarily sure why, this track just didn’t catch my attention for some reason. Then there’s Nature of the Beast which is easily the worst track here. Black Thought takes a super messy approach to an almost R&B sound. His sing here is incredibly weak, lyrics are bad, the instrumental does absolutely nothing for me, and the track is just super boring as a whole. For every moment of lyrical and production genius, there’s another moment of forgetableness. Even though I am kinda disappointed with this project as a whole I must admit the highs are way too high, the lows aren’t low enough, and it isn’t nearly inconsistent enough for me to give this anything below a 7. Still, one of the most disappointing albums released this year.
FAV TRACKS: State Prisoner, Good Morning, Quiet Trip, We Can Be Good, Thought vs Everybody, Fuel
LEAST FAV TRACK: Nature Of The Beast