Black Milk – Synth or Soul Instrumental Album Review

FINAL11013-SynthOrSoul-12Jacket“Black Milk collaborates with illustrator Upendo “Pen” Taylor (Nike, Leroy Jenkins, Gatorade) for the music-meets-visual instrumental/art series Fuzz, Freqs & Colors (FFC). Synth or Soul is the first volume in the FFC series. The process for each volume starts with Black and Pen trading beats and sketches and refining their works along the way. Throughout that exchange, the music is shaped by the visual art and the visual art is shaped by the music.

FFC is the first project launched by the new creative house Computer Ugly.”

Computer Ugly Ugly
A mixed bag of grooves with a soft set a stiff drums to go with a sound bite that keeps yelling “Ugly!!!!”. No real melody but the synths will get your head moving after about a minute or so. Its an ok beat according to Black Milk standards. The talking at the beginning was a good touch.

When The Sky Falls
For one, the melody was cool but when the bassline drops…that was it. Banger. Shakers over drums that make this sound more like a track someone would make a nice track out of than the first one.

The great Killa Cam comes to mind when I hear this, “the point guard that always want to dance with the rock”. Thats exactly what the synth (or whatever it is) does here totally overshadowing the groovier melody in the background. I was hoping the main sound stopped for a good 15 seconds to let that secondary melody breathe but nope. Because of that, this beat gets stale to me only after a few listens.

Higgs Bonsontrek
(tears start to roll down the reviewer’s cheek) Beautiful, just beautiful. Whoever was driving that Star Trek ship-plane thingy had to have this bumping in the cockpit, my goodness. Feels like you are just rolling through outer space on cruise control. From the bounce to the hi hat sequence to the various suttle changes throughout, this beat is mean.

Piano Moog
The keys paired with the synths, a match made in heaven. This sounds so good, the changes are constant. The beat recieved alot of character from the synths. I had this on repeat on the way home from work the other day, perfect to ride to. Like “When The Sky Falls”, this could be a great track with the right artist over it.

80s TV Show
So Higgs Bonson has a competitor for my favorite beat so far. I almost busted the re-run dance. Perfectly titled, eh? Whats happeninnggggg! Its so apparent that Black Milk is a product of J.Dilla on this one, which is great to hear. If you’re like me, you will lose it completely when the harmonizing comes in. The main melody is soft as q-tip cotton but the bassline and drums toughens the track to make an excellent beat.

Why Worry
Whyyyyy worrrry!? The soul portion of the tape begins. He found a sick loop that happened to have pieces of verses where the end result doesnt sound too all over the place. The faster tempo, random snare rolls and the upbeat drum pattern kept my head looking like a bobblehead. Aint nooooo picniccc! 4 bangers in a row…..

Deep Breath Deep Bass
Listen to that breathing, asthma-attack. As soon as you get into it, its over. So much energy packed into a short track – you will be starting this over more than likely.

Heaven’s Cry
This one is really mellow, I know Ive heard this melody somewhere and if I’m right, Black Milk chopped the 2nd half of the 2 bar loop from another part of the song instead of taking the easy road and just looping one piece. This is a pretty good track that has potential.

milk backWish a N%&&a Would
Oddly, my first thought was Blackstreet circa ’96. Second thought, roger troutman. Third thought, robocop busting heads in slow-mo. The bassline mixed with the voices does all the work, the drums were simple, took the night off – funky. Black’s basslines have always been to par through the years. Overall, a repeatable track.

10 Luv
A somber beat that has alot of sample chops but sounds well put together. Someone would rip this – my vote is XV. Come onnn back / Im not ready to let youuuu go. Solid track.

Drunk Tweets
The drummmsss. If you can decypher the broken language of the sample and how it is manipulated, it ends up sounding like a PSA for alcoholism. Im now curious to find the sample. Dope beat.

Conclusion: A challenging decision looks to have been made by Black Milk, synth or soul? F**k it, combine them – the product is refreshing and the boundaries are endless. I enjoyed this tape, it has plenty repeat value. Not really any terrible beats up here, 600 / Computer Ugly Ugly were probably my least favorite out the bunch. There are plenty standouts that show Black Milk has grown and is still in the conversation of one of the most consistent hip hop producers out there today. No reason why you shouldn’t add this to your pod.

Top 3 Favs: Higgs Bonson, 80s TV Show, Drunk Tweets

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