Published Jun 14, 2011Whispers of the Random Axe formation from two of hip-hop's grimiest, knuckles-up MCs (Sean Price and Guilty Simpson) with one of its nastiest, scrunch-your-face beat makers (Black Milk) have been circling since '07. Long enough that loyalists to the Duck Down-meets-Dirty District aesthetic might have given up hope that Random Axe would ever see a shelf, like so many rumoured collaborative LPs (see: Ghostface and MF DOOM). Well, listeners can breathe easy, then hide for cover, as Brooklyn, NY's Sean P promises to bust your snot box and Detroit, MI's Guilty aims a crossbow at your heart. The wait may have been long, but surprises are scarce. The formula is a safe one, but it ain't broke: hard raps, plus hard beats equals marvellous fight music. Ever the wild card, Sean lays out the rugged RA mission from his first verse on "Random Call": "Me, Guilty and Black is aggressive content/No love-letter rhymes and raps about chicks/Just a whole lotta druggin' and thuggin', that's it." But it takes wit, producer Milk's varied electronic skews on low-end boom-bap and a few dirty guest drops (Roc Marciano, Rock, Danny Brown) to keep the boasts and threats entertaining. Doubt that Random Axe can write the same gleefully ignorant song, conceptually, 14 times and win? As Guilty says: "Hi, hater/I carve a smile right next to your frown, like laugh now, cry later." (Duck Down, www.duckdown.com)
Word first leaked of this Random Axe super-trio four years ago. Why the delay on releasing the album?
Sean Price: We had a losing of the vocals at one time, but I went out there [to Detroit, again] and we did 14 songs in six days. Done.
What was the most memorable thing about the Random recording sessions?
Black Milk: Sean P has stories ― that was the thing. I heard at least five stories every day. He was telling me about how he was in jail, how he beat up… I don't wanna say the dude's name ― just crazy shit. Sean P has had a ridiculous life. Some of the stories I wouldn't believe because they were so over the top. Sean P is a crazy dude ― that's the funniest dude I've met in a long-ass time. Him and my manager was going back and forth telling stories. We didn't get any work done for the first three days. No music was recorded; it was nothing but him smoking, telling jokes, telling stories and laughing. Eventually, my manager and I couldn't come to the studio. We'd let Sean stay in the studio with just the engineer for the first three hours just so he could get some damn work done.
So why couldn't you buckle down and record the first time, Sean?
Sean Price: That's Hex. Big up, Hex Murder. He's in recovery right now, but if Hex was in the studio, 14 songs in six days wouldn't have happened. That's like, my brother, man, and when we get on the drink and talkin' shit… (Duck Down)