Renowned hip-hop producer Danger Mouse and prolific rapper Black Thought’s long-awaited collaboration album, titled Cheat Codes, is here after nearly two decades of speculation. With noteworthy features including MF DOOM, A$AP Rocky, Raekwon and others, this album is the ultimate collaboration between time-honored and modern musical giants within the hip-hop industry.
Danger Mouse has been a household name since the early 2000s as the co-founder of Gnarls Barkley and producing staple albums such as Jay-Z’s “The Gray Album” and MF DOOM’s “The Mouse and the Mask.” Black Thought has been accredited with co-founding the 1987 Philadelphia-based hip-hop group The Roots and has been celebrated for his masterful lyricism on many collaborations and features despite being a criminally underrated MC for years. He has yet to release a debut album that would properly establish himself as a soloist and give him the full acknowledgment he deserves. That is, until now – Cheat Codes is the album for Black Thought that cannot be overlooked.
Danger Mouse recreates an atmosphere of traditional, melodious hip-hop structure akin to his early work in the 2000s with repetitive yet soulful looping beats. Such simplicity is beautifully hypnotic and offers a perfect foundation for Black Thought’s trademarked skillful rhyme schemes and complex lyricism to stand out. The flow of the harmonic, vocal-heavy choruses takes on a grandiose atmosphere that Black Thought fills with dense social-political commentary about society, class divisiveness, racial structures, and more. His straight-cut tempo is a classic characteristic within traditional hip-hop which handsomely compliments Danger Mouse’s outstanding production. Cheat Codes is nothing truly groundbreaking or experimental, but the raw talent that it exudes offers a soulful hip-hop album that is truly timeless.
Personal favorites on the album (in no particular order)
Belize (feat. MF DOOM)
Strangers (feat. A$AP Rocky and Run the Jewels)
Aquamarine (feat. Michael Kiwanuka)
Saltwater (feat. Conway the Machine)
Carolina is a sophomore in the SFS studying Culture and Politics.