Here is a dream duet: Tarik Trotter, aka Black Thought, famous rapper and one of the conceptual leaders of The Roots, whose revolution is regularly televised on Jimmy Fallon talk show, and Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, world-renowned producer and mashupper (especially for his “Grey Album”, a spectacular fusion of Jay-Z’s Black Album and the Beatles’ white album), team up on this excellent album: “Cheat Codes”.
The two men had worked together in the 2000’s, they had an album in the works (supposed to be untitled “Dangerous Thoughts”!), but Danger Mouse then formed the duo Broken Bells with James Mercer and made albums for the Black Keys and Karen O, while Black Thought made a name for himself with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon and also released his three Streams of Thought micro albums from 2018 to 2020. “Cheat Codes” finally achieved this unfinished collaboration.
Raekwon and Kid Sister participate in The Darkest Part, Joey Bada$$ and Dylan Cartlidge are on Because, the late MF Doom virtually reappears on Belize, Afro-Brit singer Michael Kiwanuka on Aquamarine, A$AP Rocky and Run the Jewels on Strangers and Conway The Machine (Griselda) on Saltwater. Once again, Black Thought remains one of the great rappers of socio-politico-philosophical expression on the hip-hop planet. His reflections on American society continue cheerfully in these “Cheat Codes”, this time with the eclectic approach of colleague Danger Mouse, whose musical experience and culture (classic pop, funk, jazz, electro, boom-bap) go far beyond the framework of beatmaking trends.
However, are this richness and experience transcended through the Cheat Codes of the pair finally reunited? To ask the question is to answer it partially but… nevertheless it is a great album.