In a 2012 interview with HipHopDX, Guilty Simpson spoke on his formula for making albums. Specifically, his choice to enlist only one producer in order to establish a constant vibe throughout: “If you do it with the right producer [who] can give you phases and has different phases of production, it will sound good because it sounds like a body of work,” he explained.
So far, it’s been a success. Guilty has earned nothing but praise on each album since Dice Game, and he’s been fortunate enough to collaborate with a who’s who of beatmakers, whether it be Apollo Brown, Black Milk or Oh No.
For Detroit’s Son, he took more of an esoteric route, collaborating with Australian beatsmith Katalyst of the Quakers. He may not have the name recognition of Guilty’s previous co-workers, but Katalyst admirably holds his own with a vast array of different styles. Whether it be toeing the line between grimy and trippy (“Radiation Burn”) or one of the album’s frequent distortion-heavy bangers (“Blunts In the Air”; “The Time Is Now”), Katalyst provides adequate sonics. Together, the two make for a formidable duo, highlighting Guilty’s typically blunt, but above-average lyricism.
Only six of the album’s 17 tracks are longer than three minutes. In this case, shorter songs allow for an emphasis on the bars. Guilty kicks things off in style on the album opener “R.I.P.,” keeping his rhymes forthright: “Standing on the edge of adrenaline / Slipped and fell when I landed, lost my innocence / Now I feel filthy, now I feel guilty / Focused on what I am, not what I will be.” The buzzing beat then builds into the distortion laden “Blunts in the Air” before Katalyst switches things up entirely on “The D,” a track sure to become a Detroit anthem amongst the underground heads.
Musically the of vibe “Fractured” would be ideal for a Quentin Tarantino score, due to its similarities with Link Wray’s classic single “Rumble,” a la Pulp Fiction. Here, Guilty once again reaffirms his penchant for blunt wordplay: “Detroit mothafuckas, guns and butter / Burn a bridge, burn a foe, and the whip burns rubber / Give ‘em that certified gutta / And I mean every word I utter.” Few emcees share his ability to use such few words while still crafting a stimulating verse. This makes Katalyst’s contributions all the more effective, thanks to the subtle intricacy of his production. For instance, “Ghetto” and “Beautiful Death” are each shorter than two minutes, but the combination of the beats and one verse each make these songs particularly memorable.
In keeping with the Detroit theme, Guilty only enlists the help of fellow Detroit artists: Fat Ray, Spacek, Elzhi and Phat Kat each have their moment in the sun. However, as history suggests, whenever Elzhi spits, the bar gets raised. The end result, “Blue Collar,” is a delight for fans of lyricism that sees two of the Motor City’s finest trade verses over one of Katalyst’s more complex beats. Detroit’s Son is another great addition to Guilty Simpson’s expanding catalog. Whoever the producer, he continues to prove, time and again, that if paired with the right one, they’ll inevitably make a great album. To compare each of his LPs is difficult given the broad scope. Where this one ultimately ranks will be left to Guilty’s fans to decide.