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Thursday, Sep 09 2010 | 15:09

As the buzz of many of hip hop’s young leaders-to-be evolves from loud commotion into hushed whispers, Black Milk has stayed relevant by remaining focused on creating music that endures. He’s achieved recognition from fans, critics, and his peers as one of the best producers around, and when coupling that talent with his sharp lyricism and stylish delivery as an emcee, Black has proven to be one of the most vital hip hop artists of his generation.

This is already clear to those who heard his 2008 album “Tronic”, which capped a successful and astonishingly prolific year (in which he also released collaborative full-length releases with rappers Bishop Lamont and Fat Ray, as well as producing the acclaimed solo album from Slum Village’s Elzhi). “Tronic” showcased a growth in production technique that few expected from a beatmaker best-known for chopping samples, as his signature drums were now peppered with live instrumentation and richer arrangements. After a difficult year 2009 that saw the untimely death of Baatin of Slum Village – who Black credits with jump-starting his professional career – and the sudden illness and paralysis of his manager HexMurda, Black Milk announced that his new release would be audaciously titled “Album Of The Year”. Black quickly explained that the title was referring to the course of events from the previous 12 months. Many fans and critics discounted that explanation, expressing either excitement or objection that he was brashly proclaiming that his work would be the year’s best before the year had even started.

Far from a melancholic work, “Album Of The Year” once again sees Black Milk working to break new ground in hip hop production, and to both refine and redefine his sound. While continuing to construct the skeletons of the tracks on his same trusted AKAI MPC-2000 XL that he’s been using for years, he now employs a team of studio musicians and session players to add new layers of fat and muscle to his songs, with most of the players’ parts composed by the artist himself. A broad range of influence shines through in the tracks, with tinges of rock, reggae, and afrobeat joining his trademark hip hop bangers.

Other than the heavy contributions from both members of his live band (vocalist/keyboardist AB and drummer Daru Jones), the album exclusively features players and vocalists from his hometown of Detroit, including vocalist Melanie Rutherford, bassist Tim Shellaberger, D12 member, Eminem producer and member of Dr.Dre’s producer staff, Mr.Porter and the versatile horn player and string arranger Sam Beaubien (who arranged horns and strings on Mayer Hawthorne’s “A Strange Arrangement”). The few guest raps are provided by Royce Da 5’9″ (Slaughterhouse), Elzhi (Slum Village), and newcomer Danny Brown.

www.myspace.com/blackmk

Tracklisting:

01. 365
02. Welcome (Gotta Go)
03. Keep Going
04. Oh Girl feat. AB
05. Deadly Medley feat. Royce Da 5’9 and Elzhi
06. Distortion feat. Melanie Rutherford
07. Over Again feat. Monica Blaire
08. Black And Brown feat. Danny Brown
09. Round Of Applause
10. Warning (Keep Bouncing)
11. Gospel Psychedelic Rock
12. Closed Chapter feat. Mr. Porter

The album Black MilkAlbum Of The Year” (Fat Beats) is going to be released September 17, 2010.

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