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Random Axe “Random Axe” Review

Random Axe has arrived with straight “slap you in the face” hip hop and no gimmicks, choruses or stupid features. The Detroit-meets-Brooklyn collaboration is made up of a trio featuring Detroit’s Black Milk, a student of J Dilla and new school producer/MC, the colorful punchline lyrics and hard-splitting humor of MC Sean Price (Heltah Skeltah, Boot Camp Click and NYC’s Duck Down Records) and Detroit’s below the radar hard rhymer Guilty Simpson (an eloquent MC well versed in J Dilla and Madlib soundscapes, riding shotgun on many of their productions). With their self-titled debut release the group goes raw dog on the rap game, with Black Milk sticking mainly to the production roles, adding loads of synths and heavy drums, while dropping only a few bars here and there, instead allowing Sean Price and Guilty Simpson to trade flows.

The album opens with “Zoo Drugs,” a quick intro that leads into the furious “Random Call.” This riot causing track opens with Sean P going hard on the softness pervading rap with the straight out the box winner, rapping “No love letter rhymes and raps about chicks/Just a whole lotta drugging and thugging that’s it/You can call me one-dimensional/But ain’t too much talking when this slug get into you.” Like a hip hop protection squad, when shit gets too out of hand simply “Call up nigga, nigga Guilty, call up nigga, nigga Sean P from the 313 to the NYC.” Their espionage jump “Black Ops” follows by rolling over brooding drums and menacing lyrical content. On another head-rocker, “Chewbacca,” Sean P grows tired of the wackness of the new era, lyrically responding: “Fuckin’ new jack rapper, flinch when I walk by, ’cause I do smack rappers/Sean P the barbarian, deadly dose of the dope shit, black tar heroin.” Guilty Simpson keeps it equally fierce, “I’ll carve a smile right next to your frown, like laugh now, cry later.”

Fueled by guitars and high hats is the banger “The Hex” where Guilty Simpson fires “When your boys confronted/Consider that the hundred being hunted/I crossbow harsh flow, hit ‘em in the heart… So I’m yellin’ cut to reclaim my art.” Sean Price follows with “Afro American gangsta, I shank ya, sharp toothbrush in da gut of a wanksta.” “Understand This” is on a vintage east coast vibe with Sean Price leading before Guilty Simpson opines, “I keep grams on me ’cause they knew I had better Knicks than Mike D’Antoni.” Sean P spits that “Oscar Madison rap” on “Jahphy Joe,” which features Detroit’s adderall king Danny Brown; the track is a keeper, as are “The Karate Kid” and “Never Back Down” where Black Milk gets on his RZA jump. The first track and inspiration for the trio, “Monster Babies,” is ridiculous, sounding like some classical J Dilla as Black Milk’s stellar production shines on — classic. Black Milk’s intricate drums are highlights alongside organs, a soul sample and hand-claps that carry “Shirley C” and “Another One,” which rides chopped drums as Detroit guest Trick Trick and Rock add verses that feels a bit chunky and weighed down.

A dark lyrical assault showcasing Guilty Simpson and Sean Price, Random Axe’s opus is a modern benchmark record. While Random Axe wasn’t the total knockout it could have been, it definitely throws a lot of elbows. With straight B-boy lyricism and hard beats as the ammunition, the trio delivers with bona fide bangers in “Random Call,” “Chewbacca,” “The Hex,” ”Monster Babies” and “Jahphy Joe.” With Random Axe, hip hop adds a new voice to the disenfranchised fans seeking redemption; alongside Slaughterhouse and Bad Meets Evil they’ve formed a project of the moment to speak to hip hop’s golden era without the preachy positives. It’s golden era for those who grew up on Gang Starr, Mobb Deep, Slum Village and M.O.P.; definitely a welcomed salvo.

[This article was written by guest contributor Jon Jon Scott.]


3 Comments

    For my money you can add “Shirley C” to that last list of key tracks, but I’m sticking with “Random Call” as the best on the album. Solid listen, but I think you’re right in that some of its pieces remain better than the whole.

  • The real treat though is “Monster Babies” . Bam!

  • Hopefully there will always be a few songs that define the summer…no matter how sketchy the season or the track…Random Call is def the leader of the pack so far for me…vacant joy. very hard to beat that angle….and equally hard to dice up a release like this one better than this review does…..

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