The 12-track album clocks in just under 40 minutes and includes a host of features like Raekwon, Conway the Machine and more. Danger Mouse carefully fits each guest into the tracklist and allows each song to smoothly transition into the next with relative ease. Black Thought remains at the top of his game throughout the entire album, never wasting a line and frequently having the best verse when paired with a fellow rapper.
Cheat Codes also features one of the seldom posthumous verses from the late legendary emcee MF DOOM on the track “Belize.” The song reunites the masked villain with Danger Mouse after their collaborative album, The Mouse and the Mask, and the final result feels as though they never skipped a beat. Mouse repurposes DOOM’s verse off of his 2017 adult swim single “Notebook 03” and slides him over a moody, almost haunting beat. It sounds like a lost soundtrack to a western film, with Black Thought and DOOM as its central figures. It’s a reminder of DOOM’s greatness as well as how well Black Thought can easily flow over any instrumental.
The duo also dropped the visual for their previously released single “Strangers” upon the LP’s release. The video focuses on each artist holding up a phone and rapping into their reflection while walking around New York — flashing their swagger as they rap and show the city off through their personal POV. It’s a stylish view into each artist’s perspective and is a fitting end to the string of visuals Cheat Codes provided.
With his historic and extensive work with The Roots, his “Stream of Thoughts” series and now Cheat Codes, Black Thought remains one of the greatest lyricists to grace the mic. Danger Mouse’s return to producing a full rap album after over a decade is another rousing success as Cheat Codes is easily one of the year’s best projects yet.
Listen to ‘Cheat Codes’ by Black Thought and Danger Mouse below!
Black Thought, A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels aren’t ‘Strangers’ anymore on new single
Just days away from their release date, Black Thought and Danger Mouse deliver one last single from their joint album Cheat Codes. This time they’ve joined forces with the A$AP Rocky and the tag team duo Run the Jewels.
On the hookless new song, Danger Mouse lays down a relentless, aggressive drum pattern while his trademark synths play in the background. Throughout the song, each verse is split up by short interludes that follow one common theme: being the top gangster. Black Thought starts things off with a bang. He details being at the top of the game and seeing new competitors trying to fake their status. Rocky continues next, talking about the lavish lifestyle he lives while maintaining his mob ties.
EL-P talks about how he’ll always be on top even compared to some of the new generations. Killer Mike finishes it with multiple references to political assassinations, suggesting that he would do the same to anyone who’s aiming for his head. It’s a knockout punch to end the head-nodding track and leaves listeners immediately hitting replay to see how ended up on top. RTJ also released a short statement regarding the new track, saying how honored they were to be featured alongside such talented artists.
“We were honored to get down with our elite and legendary friends Danger Mouse, Black Thought and A$AP Rocky on this banger.”Run the Jewels on linking up for “Strangers”
Just last month, the dynamic duo hopped onto DJ Premier’s Hip Hop 50 Vol 1. for a feature on the track “Terrible 2’s.” A$AP Rocky found himself on his own compilation album this year as well. The rap superstar found himself on Nigo’s I Know NIGO project and was featured on the songs “Ayra” and “Lost and Found Freestyle 2019.” The latter also included his WANG$AP partner Tyler the Creator.
“Strangers” was preceded by the singles “No Gold Teeth”, “Because” and “Aquamarine”. This new release is yet another stellar performance from Black Thought and Danger Mouse and the features only manage to uplift the track to the next level. Cheat Codes drops this Friday (August 12th) and based on these singles, Black Thought and Danger Mouse have an album of the year contender on their hands.
Listen to “Strangers” by Black Thought and Danger Mouse featuring A$AP Rocky and Run the Jewels below!
Black Thought, Danger Mouse drop third single ‘Aquamarine’ with Michael Kiwanuka
Black Thought and Danger Mouse return with the third single “Aquamarine” ahead of their upcoming collab album Cheat Codes. The pair linked up with acclaimed soul singer Michael Kiwanuka to deliver yet another sensational teaser for the full-length project.
The newest single from the duo’s album features a sorrowful hook beautifully sung by Kiwanuka. He describes a burnt-down landscape surrounded by an enemy force and how he doesn’t understand how things got to this precarious position. Black Thought acts as a teacher throughout his two verses and attempts to explain how society came to such a dreary place.
Thought’s penmanship remains at elite as every line is filled with dense biblical metaphors while Danger Mouse’s production is just as bright and head-nodding as the past two singles “Because” and “No Gold Teeth.” It’s a pairing that calls back to some of Mouse’s work on his last partnership with a top-tier lyricist: the classic MF DOOM collaboration The Mouse and the Mask.
“Aquamarine” dropped with another black and white video, following in the same aesthetic set forth by the initial single “No Gold Teeth.” Directed by the UK duo UNCANNY, the video primarily focuses on our two vocalists. Kiwanuka sings as the camera centers on his face before it transitions to Black Thought sternly rapping. The camera captures his face at different angles before zooming in on his eye and switching back to Kiwanuka’s perspective. It’s a simple yet captivating video held together by vocalists’ stunning performances.
Kiwanuka released a statement after the song and video dropped. He explained that, once he heard the production, he knew what he wanted to say.
“For ‘Aquamarine,’ when I heard the music I just had a feeling to sing about standing up for something that’s unique and following that path. I don’t know why but that’s what came out. Sometimes when you’re following something that’s unique to you it’s as if ‘enemies are all around.’ At times life can feel fragile like ‘everything’s burning down.’ For some reason the chords and music made me feel that way.”Michael Kiwanuka on making “Aquamarine”
The release date is steadily approaching and by the sounds of these past three singles, it’s apparent that it could compete as one of the year’s best hip-hop offerings. Fans won’t have to wait much longer either, as Cheat Codes arrives on Aug. 12.
Check out “Aquamarine” by Black Thought featuring Michael Kiwanuka below!
Black Thought, Danger Mouse link up with Joey Bada$$, Russ, Dylan Cartlidge on new single ‘Because’
Just last month, producer Danger Mouse and The Roots leading man Black Thought announced that their long-awaited collaboration album Cheat Codes (formerly known as Dangerous Thoughts) will arrive on August 12. Now, the pair have delivered their second single “Because” — enlisting fellow emcees Joey Bada$$ and Russ to share the spotlight.
The new track features all three lyricists riding over a warm, crackling beat while Cartlidge’s soulful hook ties the whole piece together. As always, Black Thought delivers two excellent verses as Joey and Russ follow up with exceptional displays of lyrical prowess.
Joey sounds hungrier than ever here, talking about his upbringing and reminiscing on his past. If the bars on his upcoming album, 2000, are anything like this, it’ll be a fulfilling treat for lifelong fans. Russ wraps the track up referencing his family life and mental health before Cartlidge’s hook comes in one last time.
Similarly, Joey and Russ both gave Black Thought his flowers when speaking on the collaboration. They each labeled him as one of the greatest to ever touch a mic and Joey even recalled the time he saw The Roots record the music video for their classic song “You Got Me.”
“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!”Joey Bada$$ on Black Thought and his legacy
“Being able to collaborate with one of the greatest lyricists of all time is an honor and to do it in unison with Danger Mouse is something I’m just really proud to be a part of.”Russ on working with Black Thought and Danger Mouse
Black Thought and Danger Mouse haven’t missed yet with these past two singles and it shows just easily Mouse’s production and Thought’s style blends in with the new school of lyrical hip-hop. Although Cheat Codes is still two months away, it’s gearing up to be one of the most exciting releases of the year.
Check out “Because” by Black Thought featuring Joey Bada$$, Russ, and Dylan Cartilage below!
Black Thought, Danger Mouse announce joint album ‘Cheat Codes,’ share lead single ‘No Gold Teeth’
Legendary Roots’ emcee Black Thought has officially announced his long-awaited joint album with producer Danger Mouse.
Originally, titled Dangerous Thoughts, Cheat Codes is set to drop on August 12 and will feature an extensive guest list, as the pair announced the project with its first single and video “No Gold Teeth” on May 11.
The new track sees Black Thought spit over Danger Mouse’s cleanly-produced sound — allowing Thought to breeze through and completely dominate the track. He raps about his legacy and how he remains a top-tier lyricist even this far into his career.
Throughout the visual, Black Thought’s face is completely covered behind continually changing images. The image changes from various animals and people as he barrels through his verses. It’s a simple display of Black Thought and Danger Mouse’s abilities, but above all, it shows just how well they play off each other.
Speaking to NME in 2020, Black Thought said that his upcoming record was for people who loved rap and grew up embedded in the genre with its many shifts in trends and sounds.
“It’s a feel-good record. It’s a record for people who got into hip-hop and sort of evolved at the same period of time that we did. We’re the elder statesmen at this point, so I feel like this record is reflective of that too.”Black Thought on ‘Cheat Codes’ (known at the time as ‘Dangerous Thoughts’)
Cheat Codes features a lineup of rap stars both old and new, including A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, Raekwon, Joey Bada$$ and more. Black Thought even has a posthumous feature from the masked villain himself in the late MF DOOM, giving fans one more potential verse from the artist.
The partnership will mark Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop collaboration since his work with MF DOOM on 2005’s The Mouse and the Mask. As for Black Thought, this will be his first album since 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol 3. With these two long-time craftsmen teaming up, it seems that they’re ready to give fans something truly special.
Check out “No Gold Teeth” by Black Thought below!
Cheat Codes Tracklist
02 Cheat Codes
03 The Darkest Part [ft. Raekwon and Kid Sister]
04 No Gold Teeth
05 Because [ft. Joey Bada$$, Russ and Dylan Cartlidge]
06 Belize [ft. MF Doom]
07 Aquamarine [t. Michael Kiwanuka]
08 Identical Deaths
09 Strangers [ft. A$AP Rocky and Run the Jewels]
10 Close to Famous
11 Saltwater [ft. Conway the Machine]
12 Voilas & Lupitas