What happens when you put one of hip-hop’s best current producers in the studio with two grimy, technically-sound emcees? You get Random Axe, a supergroup that denies it’s a supergroup. To Random Axe member Sean Price, they’re simply “three get-busy n****s.” But Random Axe, comprised of Price, Detroit-emcee Guilty Simpson, and rapper/producer Black Milk, sure sounds super on it’s self-titled debut.
Right off top, you know what you’re in for. After a series of Godfather-soundbites on the intro track, the album immediately jumps into hardcore mode and stays there its duration. Sean Price describes it perfectly on the second track, “Random Call”: Just a whole lotta druggin’ and thuggin, that’s it.”
The Blast Factor
Fortunately, their rhymes don’t sound like tired cliches of street life. Sean, Guilty, and Black Milk always keep things interesting, moreso because they sound like they’re having a blast than anything. Just when you’ve settled into your comfort zone, they drop a line like “kill him now, his wife, kid, and his nanny tomorrow,” that jolts you out of it.
Black Milk has further solidified himself as one of the top beatsmiths in the game, masterfully incorporating samples and soundbites to mesh seamlessly with his hardcore production. It takes such production to stand up to the lyrical pummeling from Guilty and Sean, who never let up throughout the whole disc. Kudos to Black Milk for bringing it lyrically, also.
As we all know, company can suck if there’s too much of it, or if its simply the wrong kind. Fortunately, the members of Random Axe bring in fellow rappers from the D and the Rotten Apple to enhance the album’s hardcore sound. Danny Brown is excellent on “Jahphy Joe” and Roc Marciano steals the show on “Chewbaca.” Even Trick Trick delivers on the album’s best cut, “Another One.” The song has the feel of a 90’s posse cut, with each rapper picking up masterfully where the last one left off. Black Milk’s hard-hitting drums complement the rhymes perfectly.
A Few Missteps
Not everything on this album brings the ruckus like it should, though. “Understand This” features the only poor production on the entire album, and “Karate Kid” and “Never Back Down” are too short to have true impact on the listener. Still, these flaws don’t stick out too much, because superb lyricism remains intact throughout.
“This Will Never Be Mainstream”…
…and that’s the bottom line. This album isn’t mold breking; it doesn’t feature any new concepts, topics, and it’s really not that original. Still, stellar production and excellent rhyming make sure this album is repeat-worthy. If you’re tired of hearing about work on someone’s face, check out Random Axe.