Phonte Delivers 1 Of The Year’s Most Personal Verses
Yesterday (July 18), Black Milk released his latest album, Everybody Good?. The heralded Detroit, Michigan producer, MC, and musician involved the likes of Mick Jenkins, Karriem Riggins, and Quelle Chris on the 12-song LP. However, a highlight from the Everybody Good? release is “No Wish,” a collaboration with Phonte and Raphael Saadiq.
Black Milk begins the song with a pulsating beat (produced by Raphael Saadiq) and a cut-in vocal. The acclaimed producer (who continues to flex his Rap talents more and more) blends melody with a crisp delivery. Phonte, who recently worked with Black Milk on Little Brother’s May The Lord Watch, offers one of 2023’s most potent and personal verses. The North Carolina MC/singer raps to reveal an experience that shaped him today.
“Yo, I was six years old, she was a neighbor / Who said come here and do me a favor / A kiss I gave her / Lips filled with the artificial flavors / Of candy that we shared Cherry Now & Laters made our tongues red / But so many things went unsaid / ‘Cause if my mama found out, she would annihilate us / Confused and aroused by her misbehavior / No one to talk nowhere to turn, so I put pen to paper,” vents the MC. He then unpacks the complications associated with the life event he is alluding to. “How can a bad touch feel good? / How do we make amends when we use one another? / Call me a friend then abuse one another / Not powerless, the cowardice of you motherf___ers / To leave me all alone with new feelings I’m confronted with / Was mindin’ my own and I ain’t ask for none of this / But, with some acknowledgement I coulda got in front of it / To keep my wife and kids from bearing the brunt of it / There’s gotta be a path to healing and revealing / All the feelings of shame that’s been dividing me in half / Anxiety on overdrive, reminders of the past / I’m shook, scared to look, word to Prodigy and Hav’.”
Refusing to confine his verse to a simple 16 bars, Phonte continues with therapeutic reflection: “All I wanted was my people to be proud of me and ask / Every once in a while, ‘How you doing?’ for some follow-through / Tried to close the door on my emotions, but loneliness is not the same as solitude / Wish that I could talk to the younger me / To tell him that I’m proud / And that he is allowed to express everything he’s feeling underneath / The joy and the pain is part of the game / And you shoulda been protected, but part of me regrets / Pushing you to the limit cause you gotta be the best / Went from left for dead on the mausoleum floor / To being celebrated on the colosseum steps / No fear, I am here to emancipate you.”
Amid a year where Little Brother’s The Listening turns 20, Phonte flexes at the close: “Twenty years still here, it’s not a fad or a fetish / Forty bars in now it’s hopefully embedded / Any n__a wanna test, he gon; woefully regret it / I’m Pastor Tigallo don’t you ever f__ing forget it, ni__a.”
In addition to “No Wish,” the AFH playlist features recently released music by Phonte’s Little Brother partner Rapper Big Pooh along with songs by Kooley High’s Charlie Smarts, DJ Ill Digitz, and Tab-One as well as Black Thought & El Michels Affair.
Earlier this year, Phonte appeared on Oddisee’s To What End and Rory’s I Thought It’d Be Different. Raphael Saadiq recently announced a Tony! Toni! Toné! reunion tour, a first in a quarter-century.
#BonusBeat: A trailer to Little Brother’s upcoming May The Lord Watch documentary: