Black Thought x 9th Wonder ‘Streams of Thought vol. 1’ Album Review

Rating: 7/10

Lyrically speaking, if Rakim is the father and Nas is the son – Black Thought is the Holy Ghost of emcees that completes the holy trinity of lyricism. After 28 years in the game, the man whose stage name is more than apropos has finally released his first solo project. Kind of sort of that is.

Streams of Thought vol. 1 is another brief (5 songs, 17 mins) aptly titled EP where 215’s finest is paired with North Carolina’s beat wizard 9th wonder to infuse a fresh dose of fundamental hip-hop into today’s consciousness; ya know, the way Phryme 2 was supposed to but disappointed the shit out of you after a couple of I love and respect these dudes listens.

Thought’s biggest accomplishment may be that very few upper echelon lyricists have maintained that stature as age as crept in. Thought is Benjamin Button in hip-hop lore; the man you hear on Organix (The Roots 1993 debut) would get annihilated by the forty something assassin who will show up and show out on your favorite rapper (Method Man anyone?).

The evidence of Thought’s murderous mic intentions is immediate on the EP’s intro “TwoFifteen” where he laments: “Casualties I seen em’ like a French foreign legion/On the streets, they used to carry out bizarre procedures/In jackets and Jabar Adidas, back when local R&B was just as soulful as orthopedics” 

You have to be well versed to appreciate the verses sometimes is the point. But where Rakim is mysterious and scientific to his detriment at times, and Nas is enigmatic and a victim of fame at times, Thought is steely, confident, and makes love songs like “Hypnotic” “You Got Me” as opposed to “You Won’t See Me Tonight” and “You Owe Me”.

The biggest drawback to the album may actually be that its strongest moment surfaces in the two years old “Making Of A Murder” feat. Styles P. In a career of what the hell did he say verses, this is right up there: 

“It’s disturbing when a murder enjoys homicide/Talented Mr. Trotter-Sois, beyond qualified/Multiplying the dollar sign, the grind Is-Real (Israel), it’s Palestine/My sidekick came from Columbine…From the breaker send these toys to the undertaker/My pen smoking like a rude boy from Jamaica/While I be racing every fuck boy from the face of the earth, what’s up boy? Time for you to get weight up/“ with the grandiose metaphorical finishing move: “I’m an ocean without a coast, going back to Cali ni#%@!”

Heavy on fundamentals, hard beats & bars-virtually nonexistent on hooks this brief opus will satisfy Tariq’s core base with his relentless yet effortless inner city blues make me wanna holler delivery and mentality. A solid and unassuming project from arguably rap’s most solid and unassuming top tier craftsman.

Armaud Cooper
Armaud Cooper

East Atlanta raised West Charlotte made Keeper of the FIRE