Cheat Codes

Danger Mouse and Black Thought

Cheat Codes

Black Thought may be best-known as part of The Roots, performing night after late night for Jimmy Fallon’s TV audience, yet the Philadelphia native concurrently boasts a staggering reputation as a stand-alone rapper. Though he’s earned GOAT nods from listeners for earth-shaking features alongside Big Pun, Eminem and Rapsody, his solo catalogue long remained relatively modest in size. Meanwhile, Danger Mouse had a short yet monumental run in the 2000s that made him one of that decade’s most beloved and respected producers. His discography from that period contains no shortage of microphone dynamos, most notably MF DOOM (as DANGERDOOM) and Goodie Mob’s CeeLo Green (as Gnarls Barkley). Uniting these low-key hip-hop powerhouses is the stuff of hip-hop dreams, the kind of fantasy-league-style draft you’d encounter on rap message boards. Yet Cheat Codes is real—perhaps realer than real. Danger Mouse’s penchant for quirkily cinematic, subtly soulful soundscapes remains from the old days, but the growth from his 2010s work with the likes of composer Daniele Luppi gives “Aquamarine” and “Sometimes” undeniable big-screen energy. Black Thought luxuriates over these luxurious beats, his lyrical lexicon put to excellent use over the feverish funk of “No Gold Teeth” and the rollicking blues of “Close to Famous”. As if their team-up wasn’t enough, an intergenerational cabal of rapper guests bless the proceedings. From living legend Raekwon to A$AP Rocky to Conway the Machine, New York artists play a pivotal role here. A lost DOOM verse, apparently from The Mouse and the Mask sessions, makes its way onto the sauntering and sunny “Belize”, another gift for the fans.

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