Country : United States Label : Big Crown Records Genres and styles : Hip Hop / rap / Soul/R&B Year : 2023

Glorious Game – El Michels Affair & Black Thought

· by CCJ Gabriel

What do you get when you cross one of America’s greatest-ever emcee’s with a “cinematic soul” group? You get Glorious Game, a collaborative album between Black Thought and El Michels Affair, music that you can almost see when listening to it. This album possesses the perfect balance of live instruments and samples, the perfect amount of boom-bap and funk, and every verse pairs with every beat so perfectly it’s hard to put into words. That’s what Black Thought is for though. 

Right off the rip, the track “Grateful,” hits you with flutes, snares, and rhymes that not only blend together perfectly on a sonic level but sets the tone for what’s to be expected throughout the album. The next track featuring KIRBY, which the entire project is named after, “Glorious Game,” gets into intricate rhyme schemes that fit together like a puzzle. Why Black Thought is so incredible is the fact that he can make so many words rhyme that all make perfect sense. Plenty of artists just rhyme a bunch of words that don’t really mean anything or you can’t picture. Every bar on this joint paints an entire picture of its own. I really can’t say enough good things about the instrumentation by El Michels Affair either. There isn’t one production or performance that is subpar, and the “Glorious Game (Reprise),” interlude was perfectly placed. That may seem menial, but for me, the details scream the loudest. My only criticism of this project is that it is only roughly 32 minutes long, however, it is more than fulfilling. There are so many beautiful riffs and epic rhymes to digest that GG feels like it plays longer than it actually is, with every song getting a chance to breathe on its own. 

There’s so much that’s good about this album, it’s hard to dissect it all, but this is one of those classics that must be consumed front to back to get the full effect. The beat breakdowns are immaculate, every song fits together and plays off of each other perfectly, and you really have to listen to the album multiple times to digest everything Black Thought says. Anybody who says “hip-hop is dead” in 2023 simply hasn’t heard this album yet.

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