Black Milk

Black Milk is becoming the hip-hop junkie's newest fix. Born Curtis Cross, he has been creeping toward brand-name status since his 2005 debut album, Sound of the City. Until then, Black Milk was known strictly as a producer, so his pinpoint lyricism caught critics by surprise. His ability as an MC and songwriter was the curveball nobody anticipated. The outcome was a mishmash of raw hip-hop and crisp production that momentarily turned the rap world on its ear. Dude has since signed with Fat Beats, and his newest release, Broken Wax, is a strong dose of everything that's missing in mainstream hip-hop. Although it's only an EP, the eight songs that appear on this project pack a punch. The snares on this album are ridiculous, and it's easy to tell that Black has been boning up on his soul record collection. He's progeny of the almighty J Dilla, and as if anticipating comparisons, he finds innovative ways of laying his soul samples in order to put a necessary amount of distance between the student and the sensei. It's a safe bet to buy Broken Wax for its breakneck beats and ill vibe, but Black's ghetto-smooth cadence and storytelling ability are what really steal the show. — Jonathan Cunningham

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Jonathan Cunningham