Thanks to its low-gloss boom-bap and blinkered, stream-of-consciousness flows, ornery rap nerds will inevitably compare Random Axe to hip-hop’s “golden age”—”if this came out in ’95, it’d be a classic!” But that’s a reductionist view: Axe was released in 2011, and it’s a clinic in meticulously penned rappin’ ass rap. Sean Price, Black Milk, and Guilty Simpson, each an underground veteran in his own right, join forces to trade darkly humorous anti-pop bars over Black’s dizzying loops. Imagine a Men of a Certain Age rap album: “Sean Price with an aped up rage, no Myspace, Twitter, or Facebook page,” the 39-year-old grunts on “Japhy Joe.” Simpson delivers just as sharply: “My ego’s big, crazy, I could do Cee Lo’s gigs.” Of course, they never would.
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