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  • Writer's picturePigeon Montes

Black Thought - Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Review

A rarity in this world is consistency, and it is always a joy in music when an artist can keep it up throughout the years. Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, lead vocalist for Hip Hop band The Roots, is one of the many that is consistent in delivering solid projects. There are momentary duds within verses and at times it is refreshing to know we’re almost alike or not perfect. His newest release, Stream of Thought Vol. 3, is a continuation of great work to add to his repertoire of music through solid consistency on the front end and back end.

The story-telling within Stream of Thought Vol. 3 has a poetic construct that elevates the words more. This allows the spotlight to shine brighter as the instrumentals slightly dwindle into movie score territory. It contributes to the rare stack of quality hip-hop/rap records released this year.

With division in hip-hop based around content and influence each sub-group always needs to find a way to be inventive. Like conscious Hip-Hop is particular to varying subjects whether it delves further in politics or social commentary. And despite it all being intertwined, it then becomes about the delivery. This has always been a strength for Black Thought. Along with other rappers, like Killer Mike & Common (to name a few), find ways to write and deliver their words without a sense of preachiness. Like on “State Prisoner,” where it recounts his life and direction imposed from knowledge as a child. As he saw varying sides of being a black american, whether it was religion or the streets.

His writing versatility equally weighs on the balance scale with the production from his producer, Sean C. He brings different flavors ranging from the live instrumentation orchestrated as a DJ set when the scratches are queued to the more modern percussion based hip-hop that is resonant of that old Philly sound. Like on the leading single “Thought vs Everybody,” that feels fresh and nostalgic of that raw emcee like sounds that rarely made it to the forefront.

The amount of features on the album has it filled almost to the brim. It fortunately doesn’t feel decrepit or wasted and everyone brings in unique attributes to each record. This is specifically prevalent to the two features with Portugal. The Man and The Last Artful, Dodgr. One is mid way through the 38 minutes album and the other near end. The latter feels more refreshing as the middle two tracks are repetitive in sound and motifs.

Other features bring in what is needed and never overstays their welcome; especially on “Good Morning,” featuring Pusha T, Swizz Beats, and Killer Mike.” It’s a testament to Black Thoughts strengths as he doesn’t allow Pusha T and Killer Mike deliver the best verse. It doesn’t discredit the visceral energy from the other rappers. They shine their own light.

Streams of Thought Vol. 3 is unlike the first two outings that felt more concise and focused. But at least it adds some refreshing breaths of air to the plethora of hip-hop releases this year.


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