Album Of The Year, supposedly about a year in the life of Detroit producer/rapper Curtis Cross (known as Black Milk), would have been better as an instrumental record. Milk is such a talented producer that his innovative beats make his lyrics sound forced and uninspired in comparison.

When you buy a Black Milk record, you’re going to find beats that bang in your headphones and though Album Of The Year has plenty of those, unfortunately with production this creative and complex, Black can’t do it justice and pardoxically drops mostly forgettable lines to mostly unforgettable beats. Lines like, “Who knew I’d be getting viewed like a Youtube” and the similarly lackluster, “On top of the world until we’re on top of the mattress,” prove just how lyrically uninspired his latest effort is.

With in-your-face drums, booming bass and a soulful spirit, you can tell Milk is putting a significant amount of time and thought into the instrumentals, but his lyrics and flow sound like he’s only rapping because he thinks he has to.

If Milk isn’t going to put time into crafting his lyrics, there’s no reason to spend too much time analyzing them so let’s concentrate on what is working–the incredible beats.

“365” opens the album with a raw bass line accompanied by what sounds like the funkiest school band you’ve ever heard. And the success continues with “Welcome (Gotta Go),” which has a nice smooth melancholic organ melody with a buzzing bass and a subtle snare.

But Milk tries too hard with the drums on “Keep Going,” “Oh Girl” and “Round of Applause,” producing more of a headache inducing noise than music. “Deadly Medley (Featuring Royce Da 5’9′ and Elzhi)” is the strongest song and Black shows potential for deeper lyricism with “My shit is Martin Luther, your shit is Martin Lawrence.”

Being on a track with an underground legend like Royce Da 5’9″ proves to be influential for Milk and forces the rapper to step up his game.

Other collaborations with female vocals on “Distortion” and “Over Again” add variety to the album and blend smoothly over the stronger basslines. “Black and Brown” has a nice cinematic-esque violin introduction that turns into an epic instrumental but once again fans are left disappointed with lyrics that don’t quite match the emotional intensity established by the orchestral prelude.

“Danny Brown” has a boring flow with clich? subject matter and “Black and Brown” finishes with a misplaced skit that does not belong at the end of such a good instrumental.

“Warning (Keep Bouncing)” will indeed keep you bouncing, but lines like “My fam hold heat like Yosemite Sam” may only be your cup of tea if you really like corn in your tea.
“Gospel Psychedelic Rock” is aptly titled as it sounds like church if LSD was raining from the sprinkler system.

There’s anything but psychedelic lyricism here though, as Milk drops more predictable rhymes like “I gotta chick that’s hotter and you know that she’ll swallow.” “Closed Chapter” is an inspirational jam accompanied by a simplified beat and guitar melody where Milk finally seems to start talking about his life, which isn’t evident on any other tracks.

Album Of The Year doesn’t quite live up to its name with meager rapping and poor lyricism, despite some truly sick beats.

2 stars out of 5