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Sound of the City

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Album Review

Although it has the look of a true record, Sound of the City — put out on Black Milk's own Music House label before he signed to Fat Beats and went on to release one of the best hip-hop albums of the year in 2007 with Popular Demand — often seems more like a mixtape than an official full-length, with nearly as many sub-two-minute tracks than not. This, however, doesn't detract from the overall feel and flow of Sound of the City, which, thanks to Black's strong beats and engaging vocals, keeps the pace up even with all the breaks. Lyrically, he's not as sophisticated as he can be on Popular Demand, but his flow is good and fits his rawer, soul-based production well. In fact, it is the production that is most interesting here, moving from the very Dilla-esque "Pimp Cup" to a Georgia Anne Muldrow-ish "Eternal" to the harder, Beatles-sampling "Bang Dis Sh&@t" while still maintaining his own distinctive sound. This versatility allows him to successfully cater to the guest MCs he brings on, with grittier, darker beats on the excellent "Dangerous" that emphasize Phat Kat's rougher voice and Slum Village's T3's nasally delivery, or the thumping bass and soul sample of "Holla Like U Know Me" that sits under Que Diesel's — one of the few lesser known Detroit MCs on the disc — vocals nicely. The shorter tracks here, too, aren't distracting or unnecessary; instead, they tie everything together and make Sound of the City seem very much like a unified whole, and something both fans of Black Milk and underground hip-hop should check out.


Born: 14 August 1983 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born and raised in Detroit on the sounds of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, Curtis Cross found out at an early age that he had a talent for hip-hop, especially for beats. He spent hours in his basement -- at first with just a cheap drum machine and a home karaoke system, eventually moving up to more sophisticated MPCs and samplers -- making tapes. One of these tapes got into the hands of fellow Detroiters Slum Village, who were impressed by what they heard and invited Cross to produce a track...
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Sound of the City, Black Milk
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