Black Thought’s New Album Is Filled With Glorious Game

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Today (April 14), Black Thought has released his sixth project in the last five years. The Grammy Award-winning member of The Roots waited until more than 25 years into his professional Rap career to release a solo project outside of his band. Since mid-2018, he has wasted no time adding to an already rich discography. Like all of the titles released under his name, Glorious Game is another collaboration with a producer. In this case, Thought has meshed with Brooklyn, New York’s Leon Michels and his El Michels Affair unit. A purveyor of “cinematic soul,” El Michels has been crucial to the Soul renaissance involving Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Lee Fields, and another one of his incarnates, The Menahan Street Band. The El Michels Affair also caught major waves doing an instrumental ode to Wu-Tang Clan and RZA production, across several volumes—in addition to work with Raekwon, Freddie Gibbs, Mary J. Blige, and others.

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Playing to El’s fuzzy textures, Black Thought drops sharp lyrics. On the title track, the Philadelphia MC raps, “Okay, I’m too Black for y’all to erase / Shoot too straight for y’all to replace / Too abstract for y’all to retrace / You all would be safe but y’all are deep fake / Too fake for me to waste time / Too two-faced for me to say ‘fine’ / I’m the one-man army, Ason / The baseline is we just ain’t the same kind / Gloves and mask off, time to blast off / Baton I’ll pass off, rhyme your ass off / If we clash, I’ll haul the trash off.” With his latest nod to Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Black Thought is in the pocket as always. Thirty years after Organix, the MC raps, “I’m too strong for y’all to cut short / You see light like mine once a lifetime / When somе young gun becomes an icon / But somehow thеy’ll cut down the flight time / Unless they send that heat down the pipeline / My mind is hard to explain / Call y’all all aboard for this train / I float like a nautilus, mane / Damn, I love this glorious game.”

On “The Weather,” another AFH playlist inclusion, Black Thought takes listeners back to South Philly and paints a vivid picture of his grandmother’s house. El Michels increases the tempo of the beat every so slightly as the images come to life. In between recalling the sights, sounds, and smells of a bygone era, Black Thought drops jewels like “Herd immunity / The definition of community / The only neighbor that never knocked was opportunity.

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Son Little, Brainstory, and frequent Black Thought collaborator KIRBY are the guests on Glorious Game. Last year, Black Thought & Danger Mouse’s Cheat Codes was named among AFH‘s Best Albums of 2022.

In addition to “Glorious Game” the AFH playlist features three additional songs from Black Thought and El Michels’ new album. Songs by Che Noir, DJ Drama, Joey Bada$$, Robert Glasper, Vinnie Paz & Method Man, and Royce 5’9 are also included.

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#BonusBeat: AFH reviews Black Thought’s new Glorious Game album with El Michels Affair: