On credentials alone, the Blackman is an unheralded Detroit hip-hop original. The turntablist and emcee has been grinding in the city's underground for nearly 25 years; along the way he taught Kid Rock how to rap and toured as a DJ with heavyweights like Marley Marl and LL Cool J. And yet he's still somewhat of an unknown. Hopefully Collector's Edition remedies that. Blackman's first solo album is both the sound of a sage veteran and a virtual smorgasbord of black Americana. Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx samples join clips from Malcom X and MLK speeches, and soul, hip-hop and blues elements blend together with live and electronic instrumentation. (Detroit musicians Piranhahead and Soul Clique contribute.) Lyrically, Blackman can be funny but also desperately, controversially relevant, often in the same song. "Give me that scrilla punk/I got some white rappers in my trunk," he says in "Bobby Grape & the Polar Apes," before getting even more baiting. "Pick the gun up on the corner store Arab/ Charging you three times the amount of these goods." In the Blackman's lyrics are 25 years of frustration, observation and biting cynicism. But Collector's Edition also reflects the rhythm of the hood today.
Jonathan Cunningham writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.