Back in May, the hip-hop community was startled by the announcement of Cheat Codes (Aug. 12, BMG), a collaborative album between chameleonic producer Danger Mouse and The Roots founder Black Thought. If that pairing wasn’t enough, the duo recruited Joey Bada$$, Russ and Dylan Cartildge for their second single “Because.”
Danger Mouse’s subtle production quirks shine in his collaborations with rappers, and this is no exception. A steady drum loop mixes with funky guitars and a show-stopping hook provided by Cartlidge (nope, it’s not a sample!). Black Thought uses his verses to reflect on violence and his upbringing, dropping references to legendary artist Yayoi Kusama and the Dalai Lama. In a breathtaking kicker, Black Thought signs off with “Don’t need a reason to die, we die just because.” Atlanta rapper Russ and New York darling Joey Bada$$ ease into the pressures of being on a track with two legends with dexterity, floating over the nostalgic groundwork set in place by Danger Mouse.
Joey Bada$$ reflected on the collaboration, saying:
I’ve always been a big fan of Black Thought and Danger Mouse. I think Black Thought is one of the greatest rappers ever, so when they asked me to get on this record, it was a no-brainer, plus the record is fire! I still remember the first time I heard “You Got Me” the video was shot on my great-grandmother’s block and I was actually there that day when I was a child. It changed the way I looked at music. I’m very honored to be a part of this track. We’re making history!
Russ added, “Being able to collaborate with one of the greatest lyricists of all time is an honor and to do it in unison with Danger Mouse is something I’m just really proud to be a part of.”
This is not Danger Mouse’s first rodeo with collaboration. Whether it be as the other half of Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells or producing for the likes of MF DOOM, Sparklehorse or Karen O, Danger Mouse has always challenged himself across genres. Black Thought has been a bit quieter, primarily focusing on his role with The Roots as the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Cheat Codes will be Black Thought’s first album since The Roots’ 2014 album ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. In addition to Joey and co., Cheat Codes has a stacked feature list which includes MF DOOM, Run the Jewels, A$AP Rocky and more.
Below, listen to “Because” and revisit “No Gold Teeth.” You can preorder Cheat Codes ahead of its Aug, 12 release here.