Black Milk – No Poison, No Paradise

black milk no poison no paradiseBlack Milk – No Poison, No Paradise
Fat Beats Records: 2013

Wewwww… This shit right here… this, shit, right, here… shieeeeeet… got’s me nonsensically scribing referenced hyperbolic fragments in the hopes that from jump you understand Black Milk’s No Poison, No Paradise is that shit you need. To be specific it’s psychedelic, soulful, organic, reflective, and dynamic. It sounds like the soundtrack to a sci-fi gangster flick about Halloween in the streets of Detroit. Throughout NPNP Black Milk loosely constructs a theme of how the negative qualities of his Detroit environment in many ways shaped the perspective and talent he has as it connects to life and music. It’s a spiritual, thematic, and sonic balance that has Milk drawing from the best of Tronic; stripping down the “orchestral hip-hop big-bandness” of AOTY; and re-imagining the last remnants of Dilla’s legacy by being one of Mr. Yancey’s best acolytes.

The album’s second track, “Deion’s House” is simply a glorious piece of music. The sampled live drums roll and pop so crisply, the cascading piano notes feel like they’re diving into water as Milk pens a quick narrative of being the fatherless kid hanging out with the kid from the “good home”. It could be the album’s crown jewel. “Deion’s House” is followed by the dusty spooky rigsaw sounds of “Codes And Cab Fare” featuring top five dead-or-alive MC Black Thought. Both Milk and Thought paint quality noir verses that could be used for a syndicated crime drama. After, “Ghetto DEMF” finds Milk summoning the futuristic techno of his past work as laser synths fly over some gentle yet stuttering drums that make the neck snap as underground favorite Quelle Chris closes the track off nicely. It’s one of the best three-song stretches heard on any long player all year.

The duel lead single (and contender for video of the year) “Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst” is some of the best soul music this side of the Stax heyday… yeah I said it. Church organs, face-crunchin’ guitar samples, “godly” choir usage, and dusty drums capped off by yin-yang stories of youth, going to church, young adulthood, infidelity, and death. It’s that champion sound that creates the slow motion head-nod, while sippin’ the ‘gnac, and blowing of the piff. The album’s dynamics continue to transition and grab for attention later with the neo-soul on ‘roids “Parallels”. Singer Ab channels his best D’Angelo for the chorus as Milk gets all sauve mac seducing shorty to rest her head on the silks and pillows rap. The song is romantic, ethereal and cocky all at once. Be it those songs, the instrumentals “X Chords” and “Sonny Jr (Dreams)” that give the album some nice non-rap breathing room, or the alternative-bap of “Dismal” and “Perfected on Puritan Ave”, Milk is not fucking around here.

Yet, it’s the goliath gladiator synth and drums of album closer “Money Bags (Paradise)” that could kick over The Great Wall of China or inspire rampant bank robberies. It’s a perfect closer to an album that seems to end as soon as it begins. No Poison No Paradise is soft and hard; sample-based and electronic; righteous and gully. The whole album carries this sanguine melancholy that is equal parts meditative and  rebellious. On his fifth solo (and 12th total) album Milk seems in complete control of his craft, knowing when to be “showy” and when to be restrained for the sake of adequate emotional resonance. There is not one weak or suspect, much less wack moment on the whole album. His mic skills are arguably the best they have ever been and all the guest add the perfect ingredients to Milk’s gumbo. In 2013, No Poison, No Paradise has few equals.

4.5 out of 5

You can buy No Poison, No Paradise on Amazon.

16 thoughts on “Black Milk – No Poison, No Paradise

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  1. itmustbebobby|

    I just discovered Black Milk and I’m so glad I did. This album is great! Screw anyone who says he’s a sub-par rapper.

  2. Simon Haldbo|

    I like it. It’s just a little to cheesy for my taste. Especially the first track; almost made me puke. Then Quelle Chris picked me up. Now I’am good.

  3. eyesandteeth|

    EASILY one of the best Hip Hop albums of 2013.
    Do not sleep on this.
    I love how Black Milk’s sound keeps evolving.
    Just saw him and his band last week in Detroit.
    Mind blowing!
    See him live if you get the chance.

  4. Dope as always.. from SOTC to AOTY.. Black Milk still got it..

  5. I have to agree here. The production is pretty good but Black Milk’s rapping is forgettable. After the first few listens I didn’t remember anything from his rapping.

  6. Hyperbole or not, I thought the review did an excellent job communicating the sound and feel of this album in words. However, I completely agree re “Milk as an MC.” His mic skills have always brought his albums down in my opinion, particularly his monotone and almost robotic flow (dare I compare it to Esoteric?). He just lacks the genuineness and charisma on the mic that he is able to communicate through his production.

  7. true and the commonality of all the mediocre ones is that they are made by rappers who get played by the radio and/or old and out of touch

    Free projects have far surpassed paid albums this year

    Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
    Mr MFN Exquire – Kismet
    Shy Glizzy – Law 2
    Maxo Kream – Quicc Strikes
    Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
    Charles Hamilton -TWA Flight 801: Steve Smith and the Blazer
    Yung Simmie – Shut Up and Vibe 2
    Freddie Gibbs – ESGN
    Beautiful Lou & Western Tink – Mobbin no sobbin
    Kevin Gates – THe luco brasi story
    waka flocka – du flocka rant 2
    The underachievers – indigoism
    ty dolla sign – beach house 2
    yung lean – unknown death 2002
    nickelus F – vices
    ricky hil – SYLDD: Support Your Local Drug Dealer

    rapsody – she got game
    migos – young rich niggas
    big krit – king remembered in time
    dvnny seth – prespliffs vol 2

  8. great review and I actually think Black Milk actually really has progressed as a rapper if you compare it to any of his previous releases going back to Popular Demand he’s come a long way. the one thing he was missing was like a hard guest verse similar to what Danny Brown did on the song “Black & Brown” no disrespect to Quelle or ?uestlove they did their thing on here. As far as the production goes, it doesn’t get much better than this, the drums are still crisp and hard as ever and it doesn’t ever feel like anything he’s done before which is refreshing. if you ever get a chance to see him live with the band Nat Turner don’t hesitate to go, definitely one of the best concerts I’ve been to

  9. Jerry from down the street.|

    I just make that bitch sit in the back.

  10. i was really hyped about this album and 2 full listens through i came to a similar conclusion. I feel this album is one of the better releases this year but somehow i feel it’s missing something. I’m going to be giving it a few more complete spins before i give a concrete review on it but right now i see it being more of a 4 (possibly 4.25)

  11. This review is so packed full of hyperbole. The production on this is definitely slick, but Milk as an MC is as sub-par as ever. Get some masterclass on these beats and maybe it’s a 4.5.

  12. Need some fucking lyrics for this please

  13. Ian Shepard|

    There have been a lot of disappointing and mediocre hip-hop releases this year. This makes up for at least half of them.

  14. Todd Vandale|

    Something about Black Milk is just refreshing. I feel like he almost lives in the studios and has no internet access.
    You have every other rapper in one way or another using a bit of each others proven success and claiming it as new and original. But then you listen to an album like this, and it feels like he hasn’t listened to a commercially popular hip/hop album from the last 3 years.
    Best way to describe this album would be if you still had a Pioneer CD player in your dash, you would have had this album playing for 3 weeks straight while your running errands, telling your girlfriend to watch her ass when she about to sit, cause the CD case been riding shotgun.

  15. Bloodmoney Perez|

    the album is pretty damn stellar. Not sure if its near perfect just yet, but at this point, after 4 listens through its def. a 4 out of 5…..but i’d have to sit with it more for it to jump to that next star. I will say, its the best piece of work from Black Milk thus far. And i loved both Tronic and well as the Random Axe & Black & Brown joints.

  16. should of just given it a 5/5 man. I know you wanted to.

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