The next Black Thought thing, not counting The Roots Picnic, is an upcoming release with producer Danger Mouse entitled, “Cheat Codes”.
Weird that even though it is but weeks away – the weekend of June 4 and 5 – the upcoming, live-and-in-person-and-unmasked Roots Picnic in the grass at The Mann is quiet about its promotion. If Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan, Kamasi Washington and Summer Walker were coming to my house’s lawn, I’d be screaming that fact out of my window, daily.
No problem. There’s plenty of Roots news to amuse us, even if the Picnic is quiet, and Questlove is in post-Oscar mode. Namely, that on Wednesday, The Roots’ frontman, wordsmith and rapper Black Thought, along with producer Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley and “The Grey Album” renown) are releasing their duo album, “Cheat Codes” on August 12, and dropped the first single from their spacey collaboration, “No Gold Teeth”.
The announcement of Cheat Codes also came with a “No Gold Teeth” video and its rollcall of features such as A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Raekwon and Conway the Machine.
As the first hip hop jam that Danger Mouse has done since DANGERDOOM, and Black Thought’s newest solo work since his Streams of Thought EP trilogy, the album – initially titled Dangerous Thoughts – is twelve tons of fun, from its tracklist:
01. Sometimes02. Cheat Codes03. The Darkest Part (feat. Raekwon & Kid Sister)04. No Gold Teeth 05. Because (feat. Joey Bada$$, Russ & Dylan Cartlidge) 06. Belize (feat. MF DOOM)07. Aquamarine (feat. Michael Kiwanuka)08. Identical Deaths 09. Strangers (feat. A$AP Rocky & Run The Jewels)10. Close To Famous 11. Saltwater (feat. Conway the Machine) 12. Voilas & Lupitas
And, for anyone who loves hearing The Coup’s Black Thought-led theme song to HBO Max’s Laker dramedy, “Winning Time”, and rues the end of its season, “Cheat Codes” and “No Gold Teeth” promise to keep the weird party vibes going. At least until The Roots Picnic.
The last time Thought and I spoke, we talked about his solo jams swinging differently than his Roots joints.
“I agree. On my newer solo stuff, my voice sits differently from where it sits with The Roots. It’s mixed differently than it ever was mixed with the Roots’ material. I always looked at my voice as an instrument. In the grand scale of the Roots’ musicality, maybe over the years in the pockets where my voice sat, it’s been less likely to cut through, if that makes sense.”
Thought concluded, “In my recent solo recordings, it sits up in the mix. more out front, which makes my lyrics resonate in a different way. All things in due time. I wouldn’t be able to so seamlessly alternate from project to project or compartmentalize that which I do if I hadn’t been working in a Roots capacity. It took everything that I have done until this point to get me to this point.”
So, there’s that.