This is the 2nd solo album from Philadelphia veteran Black Thought. Most notable for being the frontman of The Roots, he has since cemented himself as one of the most skilled & well respected lyricists in all of hip hop from his work with the band or his lengthy list of show-stopping features. However, it wouldn’t be until 2018 when he finally started putting out projects under his own name with the 9th Wonder-produced debut EP Streams of Thought before following up with the Salaam Remi-produced sequel Streams of Thought 2: Traxploitation & of course the Sean Cane produced full-length debut Streams of Thought 3: Cain & Abel that wrapped up the trilogy. Last time we heard from Thought was last summer when he & Danger Mouse finally released their Dangerous Thoughts debut Cheat Codes after 17 years in the making to universal acclaim, but is returning alongside El Michels Affair to spit some Glorious Game.
“Grateful” is a consciously abstract opener to the album with Black Thought encouraging the listeners to at least show some gratitude whereas “Glorious Game” takes a more jazzier, psychedelic soul route to talk about how mackin’ & pimpin’ never died. “I’m Still Somehow” dives into spacier territory as far as sound goes confessing the heat he received from a friend & that black joy is rebellion, but then “Hollow Way” goes into boom bap turf asking if it’s the monster within or that causes black-on-black violence.
Meanwhile on “Protocol”, we have Thought over a more summery instrumental explaining that he’s from another planet & takes shit for granted leading into “The Weather” continues to dive into mellower territory looking back on the crazy summers he’s lived through. “That Girl” is a heartfelt ode to his wife Michelle with a sample-based beat just before “I Would Never” blends returns to the boom bap with a soul sample unloading spiritual baggage & telling those who’re still here to do their job.
“Alone” continues to fuse kicks, snares & keys to make it clear to the listeners who can’t help but feel loneliness while the song “Miracle” has some jazzy undertones throughout the beat has Black Thought talks about never realizing how much he had to sacrifice to be in the position that he’s in now. Then after the “Glorious Game” reprise interlude, the closer “Alter Ego” incorporates some synthesizers so he can admit publicly that he he was starting to lose his drive 15 years ago.
I would say it’s better than Cheat Codes but if you admire Mr. Trotter’s lyrical talents as much as I do, then I think you’re gonna like Glorious Game almost as much & it increases my anticipation for the 4th installment of the Streams of Thought series that was announced earlier this week whenever the time comes. The subject matter here is more personal & transparent & El Michels Affair’s production here is more bottom-heavy yet soul-tinged as opposed to Danger Mouse’s.