Danger Mouse & Black Thought - Cheat Codes
Aug 14, 2022 (updated Aug 15, 2022)
95
VIDEO REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCwEb4sEdRM

This is one of those albums where every single thing falls into place really nicely.

From his iconic Grey Album to his monumental list of credits ranging from Gorillaz to Gnarls Barkley, Danger Mouse is a household name amongst hip hop heads just as much as Black Thought is a legendary MC. So it means a lot when I say this is the first project I’ve heard with Danger Mouse’s name written on it where I’m especially blown away by his explicit artistic contributions as a producer.

In 2022, when it seems every artistic hip hop project is dedicated to utilizing the most abstract beat humanly possible, Danger Mouse concocts an album with a charming simplicity to it that I’m absolutely in love with. Pretty much every beat here is a short and sweet loop, likely ripped from a vintage psychedelic vinyl. It’s by no means revolutionary-- it’s actually as old-school as hip hop gets. But Danger Mouse knows if you pick your samples right and give them the proper amount of love, you can turn a simple loop into a phenomenal work of art. There is not a single weak track on this album, and that is in large part because every single sample made into this record absolutely slaps. The mixing is totally flawless, both from a technical standpoint of allowing every frequency to have its own pleasant little place in the mix, to a creative standpoint of nailing sample choices, effects, and song transitions. The end result is a collection of fuzzy, warm, charming, catchy, and emotive beats that create the absolute perfect canvas for Black Thought’s highly technical rapping to float in.

The gratifying contrast between Danger Mouse’s minimalist and creative craftsmanship with Black Thoughts' rich and unswerving vocal delivery is honestly the best thing to happen in hip hop all year. I love listening through this album and having a choice between laying back and letting the psychedelic atmosphere bring me to a satisfying place or zooming in and trying my best to decipher Black Thought’s incredibly impressive lyrics and rhyme schemes. The balance between the two is just perfect; plenty of space for both of them to show off the very best of their skills. While both bring a ton to the table, for me personally I’m slightly more impressed by Danger Mouse’s contributions since Black Thought isn’t necessarily doing anything drastically different from his Streams of Thought series. Regardless, the chemistry is undeniable. This is probably my AOTYSF.

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