Black Milk - No Poison No Paradise (Review)

Black Milk - No Poison No Paradise

"No Poison No Paradise" is the fifth studio album by Detroit emcee/producer Black Milk. The album features guest appearances from Black Thought, Mel, Dwele and others as well as production from Will Sessions, although mostly all tracks are produced by Black Milk himself. It was released on October 15, 2013 via Fat Beats and Computer Ugly Records.


1) Interpret Sabotage (featuring Mel) - The first song on the album has a head-nodding instrumental with futuristic synths and hard drums that sound really crisp due to the exquisite mixing of the album. The beat is banging and Black Milk rides it effortlessly, beginning the overarching narrative of the album about a character named "Sonny" coming from nothing and making something of himself while Mel provides some soulful singing on the chorus. Very dope way to start the album.

2) Deion’s House - This is the only song on the album that is not produced by Black Milk himself. Instead, Curtis Cross kicks a story about Sonny hanging out over Deions house and trying to stay out of trouble as kids over a beautiful Will Sessions instrumental with textured organs, rolling drums and soft piano keys. Very dope.

3) Codes & Cab Fare (featuring Black Thought) - Now this is fire. The beat is darker than the others so far, with haunting synths and a dreary violin sample over somber drums. Lyrically Black Milk and Roots emcee Black Thought both rip it, rapping about being caught up in dark places and looking for the light wherever they can find it. It's a shame that Black Thought doesn't get more work on other artists albums since he is a beast on the mic. Anyways, this is banging.

4) Ghetto Demf (featuring Quelle Chris) - The futuristic synths return on this song, which has an instrumental reminiscent of something off of Black Milk's "Tronic" album. The beat is dope, though, and Black Milk bodies it, rapping about the dark streets of Detroit in a fluid flow. Quelle Chris comes correct as well, but I think Black Milk had the best verse on here by far. Very nice.

5) Sonny Jr. (Dreams) (featuring Robert Glasper and Dwele) - This is just a softer, more organic instrumental with jazzy horns to simulate a dream sequence in the narrative of the album. Not bad.

6) Sunday’s Best - This song and the next one were both released as a combination single in promotion of the album. The beat is really dope, with a chopped up choir sample and pianos over boom-bap drums. Lyrically Black Milk walks us through a common Sunday of Sonny's life when he was growing up - sitting in church when he would rather be home playing video games and sleeping in. This track is fire.



7) Monday’s Worst - The beat on this track has a soulful vocal sample layered over pianos and bluesy guitars. In contrast to the previous track, Sonny is all grown up and heads out to stick up somebody just to make ends meet and ends up being the victim of a stick up himself. Very dope.

8) Perfected On Puritan Ave. - This song has probably my favorite beat on the album so far, with some cinematic strings, soft chimes and backing vocals over mellow drums. Black Milk comes through and kicks some reflective rhymes about Sonny playing in the streets as a kid and trying to avoid the trouble and pain that comes along with it. The song ends with a crazy energetic jazzy horn outro. Another banger.

9) Dismal - Sonny hits rock bottom over a moody instrumental with gloomy synths and plodding drums as Black Milk adeptly portrays Sonny's fight with his inner demons as he realizes that he has lost everything, from his money to his women and fame. The beat is appropriately dark to match the subject matter, but this song isn't really a standout for me. Still, its far from terrible.
 
10) Parallels (featuring Ab) - The beat on this track is full of trippy resonant synths and head-nodding drums as Black Milk comes through and kicks some rhymes to his woman while Ab provides the chorus. Not bad, but not the best on here either.

11) X Chords - Instrumental interlude.

12) Black Sabbath (featuring Tone Trezure) - This song has another synth-heavy instrumental with some spacey keyboards layered over hard ass drums. I think its worth pointing out that Black Milk's drums have all been really dope on this album, as is usual for a Black Milk production. Anyways, the beat is pretty good and Black Milk shows up to kick some rhymes over it about having to decide between a "white picket fence" or "that fence with barb-wire" while Tone Trezure provides the chorus. Nice.

13) Money Bags (Paradise) - The final song on the album has another "Tronic"-ish instrumental with ill layered keyboards over head-nodding drums. I'm really feelin' the beat on this one and Black Milk rips it, rapping about doing whatever you have to do to get the money. Dope way to close out the album.

I'm going to rate the album

3.75 / 5

because its got some heat on it, but there are still a few tracks that I'm not really feelin' too much. The beats are quite good throughout and alternate between synth-heavy instrumentals to more traditional, soulful samples over boom-bap drums. The mastering on the album is really great as well, with all of the instrumentals and vocals sounding crisp and lush. Lyrically Black Milk is on point as well, sticking with the overall narrative for the majority of the album and spitting harder than I've heard him rap in a while. The only real complaints about the album are it's general shortness, with only 11 tracks and 2 interludes, and a few tracks here or there than don't really work for me. Still, the album is quite good, especially if you are fan of Black Milk's previous work.

2 comments:

  1. Well tronic is Black milk best album so far. With this album, I saw maturity and a huge improvement in his lyrical ability. I would give it a 4/5 easily but what I like about your review is that you honest about what you like and don't.

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    1. I'm a big fan of pretty much all of his albums, but I agree that his lyrics on this album are much better than on the others. The beats are dope, as always, but the lyrics did show growth.

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