Reviews

Danger Mouse & Black Thought
Cheat Codes

(BMG)

8/10

Danger Mouse loves collaboration. By diving into the pool of soul, pop, rap and rock he’s helped take some of the biggest names of his generation to the next level. However, as intriguing as some of these detours have been, you can’t help but feel like it’s time for Danger Mouse to focus on himself for once. By genre-hopping throughout the 2010s he’s ended up in a weird state of limbo. 

Cheat Codes, his first record in collaboration with The Roots’ Black Thought, addresses this issue head on. The album sees both artists return to their stylistic origins with 12 tracks of widescreen hip hop delight. 

There’s no messing around, with the duo attacking the album as if it’s their last. In just 38 minutes we’re taken from the soul-infused ‘Sometimes’, to the ride-with-me funk of ‘No Gold Teeth’, right on down to the sonic heatwave of ‘Violas & Lupitas’, proving that not all albums have to run longer than a feature-length film.

As you’d expect, they rack up one hell of a guestlist along the way. Raekwon, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$ and Run the Jewels stop by for a verse or two, but as great as these moments are, they are all overshadowed by one man. MF DOOM descends on top of ‘Belize’ like a true champion. Unlike the vast majority of posthumous guest spots, his addition truly elevates the track to a higher plain, giving the track a distinct B-movie feel. 

Cheat Codes is a timely reminder of what two great hip hop minds can achieve when they put their heads together. Don’t call it a comeback. This is the start of something new.

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