"Album of the Year" by Black Milk

Black Milk
Album of the Year

Fat Beats Records


That Black Milk idolizes J. Dilla is no surprise. Thankfully he manages to be a worthy acolyte of the late great. But when your MC cadence and production style can be best described as "Dilla-esque" you can be sure that stepping out of that Dilla shadow is going to be a tall order. At times, Black Milk can approach this lofty goal, but more often than not us Dilla fanatics can't help but miss the originator.

I'm not going to even try to tell you that I think that Black Milk has chosen a bad superhero to emulate. As I've said before, I think that Black Milk can approach the aesthetic of J. Dilla. The challenge is to step on out his own, and though I was a big fan of his previous album "Tronic", I felt that this one was just missing something. I can't put my finger on it exactly. I mean, the whole "be-like-dilla" thing isn't new with Black Milk, I just felt like he had more originality on "Tronic" than here. For example, "Welcome (Gotta Go)" is a song where the Dilla influence is a bit too obvious. Unfortunately, without some differentiation between the original to the disciple, it's going to come off a bit flat.

So where does the music transcend the copy-dilla to become something more? "Deadly Medley" featuring Royce Da 5'9 is a good start since it features a dirty ass beat that's just ill. This is how you step out of Dilla's shadow (in spite of all the Dilla mentions).

My shit is Martin Luther
Your shit is Martin Lawrence

I've heard that line a few times in various incarnations, but the first time I heard it was from Black Milk. "Distortion" and "Closed Chapter" are also standouts with "Closed Chapter" in particular being my favorite.

Here's the thing...if you don't mind being constantly reminded of Dilla, then you aren't going to hate anything that Black Milk does. I just wish he would step up and own his sound. Yes, Black Milk acknowledges his influence, but you've got to move on. If this album is Black Mlik mourning, I hope the next one he puts in him moving on with his life. And that is probably the best way it is for me to summarize "Album Of The Year", a solid, but not quite perfect album.

4.000 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. 365 (04:04) 4
2. Welcome (Gotta Go) (03:58) 3
3. Keep Going (04:35) 3
4. Oh Girl (feat. AB) (03:26) 4
5. Deadly Medley (feat. Royce da 5'9" & eLZhi) (03:42) 5
6. Distortion (feat. Melanie Rutherford) (06:15) 5
7. Over Again (feat. Monica Blaire) (03:35) 4
8. Round of Applause (05:27) 4
9. Black and Brown (feat. Danny Brown) (05:22) 4
10. Warning (Keep Bouncing) (03:27) 3
11. Gospel Psychedelic Rock (03:19) 4
12. Closed Chapter (feat. Mr. Porter) (07:19) 5