Behold a hip hop Trifecta
It was just a couple weeks ago that Black Thought, front man for The Roots, announced a new EP. If this announcement in itself didn’t excite you, he paired up with 9th Wonder and Soul Council to handle production. For the purists out there, this is parallel to a trip to Toys R Us when you were growing up. Even more so, with the cacophony of music around us, ‘Streams of Thought Vol. 1’ is a stand out.
The EP is five tracks long, totaling at just under 20 minutes. Although EPs are supposed to be shorter in length compared to an album, we may finish with a sense of wanting more. This isn’t the case but simultaneously is the case for ‘Streams of Thought Vol. 1’. The length itself works perfectly with the average attention span. It’s the content that leaves us yearning for more bars and more beats. However, I consider that to be one of the best aspects.
Stream of consciousness (thoughts)
Whenever I consider the style of writing that is a stream of consciousness, I often think of The Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger wrote Holden’s character in a very sporadic and discordant way. We saw everything he thought and felt in real time. Granted, Holden Caulfield had an array of internal battles to face, but it made that free flowing style a perfect match. I believe Black Thought presents us with ‘Streams of Thought Vol. 1’ in a similar manner. No, he is nowhere near neurotic like Holden but he does bestow us with the opportunity to hear his perspective.
This insight is not limited to hip hop’s climate. It is a synthesis of Black Thought’s upbringing, social commentary on the political atmosphere, and food for soul of the Black community. For 17 minutes to carry such soul, you know the features had to be top notch as well — they are.
A penny for Black Thought
‘Streams of Thought Vol. 1’ includes verses from Styles P, Rapsody and KIRBY. 9th Wonder and The Soul Council built the sonic blueprint without a flaw. Each beat sets the tone for all the emcees to flow without inhibition. While every track is notable in its own rite, there were a couple standouts for me. The first being, “Dostoyevsky”, named after the Russian author who’s renowned for his novel, Crime and Punishment as well as a few others. However, this novel holds a connection to ‘Streams of Thought Vol. 1’. “Upgrade to a spaceship, from a basic whip / Cash rules everything / I just wanted a taste of it” says Black Thought as he recounts the days of his youth.
Much like the protagonist in Crime and Punishment, he understands the power that money possesses to greatly alter his circumstance. What Rodion Raskolnikov and young Black Thought may have missed were the confounding factors: greater responsibility and potential loss of the sense of self. However, present Black Thought understands his destiny stays in his hands. Rapsody joins him finishing out the track and she did not come to play. “I was built to run the game / I came up playing guard / With young niggas between 5’5 and 6 foot 4″. She is more than aware people will count her out, but that doesn’t hinder her from reaching higher heights.
‘Streams of Thought Vol. 1’ is the first of three installments. It’s available on all streaming platforms.