“Chewbacca! Deuce deuce poppa, not rockin’ your shoes propa!” A flow doesn’t get more Random than that, and it’s verses like that that make hip hop a fascinating thing – when an emcee can construct a 16 bar verse out of a word or phrase that comes from nowhere. Sean Price, the writer of said verse is known for his grimey “I don’t give a f%#k” flow, and has a long list of rhymes you would, at first listen, call random. But if you were to take time to hit the rewind button with “what the hell did he just say?” in mind, you might just realize that indeed the verse started out random, yet makes more sense than anything many less technically sound rappers would ever spit. On the topic of “random” let’s talk about the industry acclaimed “supergroup”, Random Axe. Comprised of Detroit’s own producer/rapper, Black Milk, lyricist Guilty Simpson, and previously mentioned Brownsville, New York emcee, Sean Price. Their debut self titled “Random Axe” album (which dropped June 14) is a random force of ridiculously insane production underneath street influenced raw and gritty bars. And as random as some of the track titles are, the album as a whole is not.
The group’s first offering came nearly 3 years prior to the album’s release, when the trio did a track called *Run* off of, “Ode to The Ghetto”, Guilty Simpson’s 2008 album, which didn’t have the “Random Axe” moniker attached at that time. A year later the supergroup released a song called *Monster Babies” which was released under the Random Axe imprint and the talks of how the deadly trio began creating an album. The 2 year wait that anybody in the know of Random Axe’s union had to endure was damn well worth it. The release of *Monster Babies” gave listeners the only glimpse of what would come when the album eventually dropped, and gave them a very promising one at that. And two years later it’s safe to say that no one is disappointed at all.
The entirety of the production was handled by Black Milk, and he delivered a very sonically inclined and diverse array of beats that would inspire any beat-maker, and inflict them with the Klingon face. On top of the production Black Milk, also serves up some amazing verses and hooks, to the Random Axe project. He has left the producer/rapper title and has become a full fledged emcee who happens to be an amazing music composer as well. The three emcees trade off rhymes seamlessly and almost effortlessly as they give the listener a window into a life that’s not very sunny, but more grimey and gutter – this is definitely a “street” album.
The 15 track album gives the listener a solid listen from the *Zoo Drugs* intro to the *Outro Smoutro” (which should’ve been rhymed on: amazing beat). *Random Call* and *The Karate Kid* are the more laid back listens musically but lyrically still contain the raw hood direction the album takes. *The Hex* is the track dedicated to Black Milk’s manager Hex Murda, who fell seriously ill, but keeping up with the tone of the album, is far from a traditional tribute track; and with Hex’s reputation he probably wouldn’t have had it any other way; *The Hex* is strong, and undeniably one of the standout tracks on the album. Other standouts include, *Black Ops* which evokes the exact feeling the title offers up, and is definitely one of those tracks that’ll definitely be played over and over. (That double snare just gets me.) *Chewbacca* (which is one of those random track name’s mentioned earlier), is so neck breakingly ill and should be played as loud as possible, if the sample doesn’t flip you out then the kick and the snare will. Listeners will rejoice when hearing this one. *Everybody Nobody Somebody* is a song that makes you think, but you’ll have to listen for yourself to see why, replay-ability is high on this one; the sample is very haunting, drums are crazy and lyrics are on point with life. *Jahphy Joe* is hands down the illest offering the supergroup serve up. The track is unmistakably raw: drums and bass with a sonic tone riding up and down throughout the song, and features the unmatched vocals of Detroit singer Melanie Rutherford, and fellow Detroit up-and-comer, Danny Brown. Rounding out the Random Axe album standouts are *Shirley C* and *Another One* – both tracks that Black Milk completely spazzed out on production wise, and are two tracks that show the skill set each member of the trio possesses. The breakdown within and between verses on Shirley C, as well as the clap and tambourine and guest rapper, Fatt Father’s verse, are very memorable. The vocal sample that resonates throughout *Another One*, is definite favorite as well, and the drum programming on the track will leave you in awe.
So after a two year wait, Black Milk, Sean Price, and Guilty Simpson hit the hip hop community with a long awaited street gem, and we are grateful. Immaculate production, lyricism, and enough street edge to have you walking down your block with a new found sense of “hood”, not to mention amazing cameos by artists like: Fat Ray, Roc Marciano, and Sean Price’s fellow “Heltah Skeltah” partner Rock. The cameos are by no means household names, but it was in the interest of the supergroup to keep the Random Axe project an in-house one – Black Milk stated “With three voices, you don’t need a lot of features.” The contributors they recruited did the album justice and Random Axe’s random delivery of solid and edgy music are a welcome addition to the current state of hip hop – listeners will surely be looking forward to what the trio will have to offer down the line, and surely they will do nothing less than give the people what they want.
Daniel Levon Lunsford is a hip hop producer/composer, aspiring M.C. and a student from San Diego, California, with a genuine love and passion for music.