Saturated in an electricity that will soon consume the entire frontend of the mix, it doesn’t take much more than pressing the play button to run head-first into the discord that is the intro to Emcee Monte’s “I’m so Black.” Ominously subtle but not quite clandestine enough to avoid tiny bits of noise from slipping out of the speakers and burrowing their way into our ears, this juncture of the track is definitely the most abrasive – but in the best of ways possible. Emcee Monte isn’t trying to copy the model his peers have abused to death in their own work; in “I’m so Black,” he’s quite literally marching to the beat of his own drum (and setting a fine example in doing so). 


In pop music, everything revolves around a chorus and, more specifically, the hook sewn into this climactic moment. While this is just as true of most hip-hop, I’m not quite sure I could say so for “I’m so Black,” being that there’s just so much going on ahead of and after the chorus for the track to be defined by this one moment alone. With each verse, it seems as though Emcee Monte is peeling back something else and revealing yet another layer of his artistry and storytelling talent to us. He’s no presumptuous or particularly arrogant in his execution, but instead staying true to a swagger that at one time made rap one of the most artistically viable and expressive genres on the planet. 

The instrumental element doesn’t get enough credit in today’s hip-hop, and it definitely shapes the core of the mood in this track beyond question. Something I wasn’t expecting to find, the bass’ intertwining with the percussion isn’t hazy but instead designed to swell and make us feel a little overwhelmed – just in time for Emcee Monte to come swooping in with one of the crispest lyrics in the song. He’s very methodical in the way he’s structuring this single, and had I not known differently I would have thought he had been in the game for twice as long as he actually has been. This is a guy who is at complete peace with the recording process, and it shows in his work. 


I didn’t know much about Emcee Monte outside of his reputation out of the upper Midwestern rap underground before I stumbled across “I’m so Black” this February, but I can tell you now I can’t wait to hear what else he’s capable of doing both in and outside of the studio. He swings hard and cracks one out of the park in this single, but while he’s an ace at heavy jams, I’d like to find out what he can do with something a bit slower and more deliberate in measure. This is a meaningful, hard hip-hop track that every revolutionary and ally the same should check out immediately, but more importantly than this, Emcee Monte is an artist you need to be keeping a close eye on in the future. 

Garth Thomas 

The music of Emcee Monte has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more