By now, you’ve heard that Random Axe verse-murderer Sean Price doesn’t give a hot Ruck about female MCs, sparing only MC Lyte and Rah Digga in a recent interview where he expressed his dissatisfaction with rappers of the fairer sex, claiming they don’t hold his interest. While Sean P is better off keeping that kind of remark to himself in the interest of increasing the peace (and preventing another Lil’ Kim diss track that is sure to break even more PayPal records), he will most likely end up getting a pass because, well, he’s Sean P. The Boot Camp Clik veteran is candid and unapologetic, and such statements are in some way part of his appeal. Clever frankness will endear you to the Detroit scene, so naturally his teaming with the D’s Guilty Simpson and Black Milk has had rap salivating for the last few years. Random Axe, the fruit of their labor and our patience, is summed up by Sean P on “Random Call”: “A whole lot of druggin’ and thuggin’, that’s it. You can call me one-dimensional, but ain’t too much talking when this slug get into you.”
Such villainous content allows Black Milk to show a contrast to the soulful sound of Album of the Year, opting for a harder-hitting approach to complement Sean Price and Guilty Simpson’s aggressive styles. On “Black Ops”, Black Milk creates a comfort zone for Guilty Simpson with a beat similar to OJ Simpson standout “Coroner Music” and Guilty responds in kind: “This isn’t for the weak-hearted, you’re who the streets target, with a tattle-team so we hurt one, put him in the hospital, get ‘em all together and the whole waiting room’s getting magazines.” The Simpson-Price combo has enough guns to make T.I. blush but avoids the repetitiveness that plagues one-dimensional artists thanks to both their individual skills and Black Milk’s ability to keep the album fresh, with production swinging from the lush “Chewbacca” to the West Coast-inspired “Jahphy Joe”, which sounds like something Dom Kennedy would rap over.
Random Axe has no intention of hipping the listener to some life game, and Price and Simpson excel at keeping a tired subject, gunplay, interesting. Black Milk keeps Random Axe moving, cohesive, and concise by squeezing 15 songs into little more than 40 minutes and eschewing skits in favor of actual music (how novel!). While many hip-hop collaborations have looked good on paper but failed to deliver, Random Axe lives up to its substantial potential and lofty expectations.