Even more lightweight than the last one, and that’s not just because this is 33 minutes long. Contrary to what everyone’s been saying, the beats could have been supplied by anyone: BADBADNOTGOOD’s technical skills – which I begrudgingly admit they have, except for the drummer, who sucks – appear nowhere here, probably because they’re starstruck that they’ve finally gotten a full album’s worth of production with a hip-hop veteran rapping over-top but more likely because they’re mostly delegated to atmosphere duty, and they’re not as good at it as Adrian Younge. Other than the instrumental second half of “Ray Gun,” they never step outside that comfort zone, even though they get three tracks to themselves (“Mono,” “Stark’s Reality,” “Experience”) and a couple of other outros.
That being said, nothing here is bad, though I didn’t care for “Tone’s Rap,” because of its histrionic performance at a dirge-y pace. While it’s sometimes obvious that Ghostface Killah is a ghost of his former self (ie. his verse on “Ray Gun”), it’s unfair that a lot of people have written him off completely: “My vocab is powerful, spit shit subliminal / Slang therapist, my whole style is criminal / Bugged like Bob Digital, fly visual / Mind body and soul, I’m a strong individual” is a strong couple of lines on “Gunshowers.” But yes, he does get outshined by everyone else who gets a say except for Tree, whose rasped, monotonous flow leaves something to be desired. Danny Brown instantly steals the show on “Six Degrees” while Elzhi has the best verse on the album with lines like “If you hit the rock bottom of the asphalt, that’s likely your ass fault,” “Gotta shake the snake in the grass and spark sharks to swim by ya,” and “Laying them face down and ass up like a card dealer / The time ceases, I keep a bed with dime pieces / As I palm another phenomenon rhyme thesis.” DOOM does the bare minimum to scrape by, and why should you be surprised by that? He hasn’t had a great verse since 2009.