Prozak could be one of Strange Music’s most under the radar yet consistent artists considering how many within Hip Hop view the label Tech N9ne and Travis control. Dropping several projects over the years, the Saginaw, Michigan-native has established a solid fan base with his horrorcore rap/metal hybrid that’s never strayed too far away from what works. His first project since 2013’s featureless We Fall Down, Black Ink has Prozak fine-tuning everything even further with guest appearances on every track. That becomes the glaring problem with his fourth full-length project. There are moments where Prozak sounds more insightful and revealing. Outside of that Black Ink sometimes sounds like empty chaos with too many guest appearances. Quite a shame too as Prozak is fairly good on his own. However, longtime fans of the emcee know completely what to expect.
One’s milage with Black Ink really depends on familiarity with Prozak which is sonically split between metal and more traditional Hip Hop. Black Ink kicks off with the momentum building Tech and Krizz Kaliko assisted “Purgatory.” Kaliko delivers his signature stadium sounding hook before everyone involved rides the beat comfortably before a head knocking closer featuring some well-placed DJ scratching. This transitions well into the boom-bap sounds of “War Within” featuring Ces Cru. Having everything stripped down to just a beat and sinister piano loop, Prozak really puts on the best and most honest rap performance on Black Ink. Regardless of his fame and notoriety, his inner struggles are laid out fairly convincingly with these bars: “but the hardest lyrics come from the struggle / just gotta harvest it / You gotta take the good, the bad, somehow just make it work / Let’s take a second and just contemplate the universe / You get it? nah, fuck it. Neither do I / Life’s a mystery that defies all logic, it don’t apply.” Both “Purgatory” and “War Within” are really good displays of how well Prozak straddles the line between both worlds. The same goes for the high octane metal of “Do You Know Where You Are?” featuring Tech and Twiztid and the Madchild and Ubiquitous guested lyrical excersize “The Plague.”
Things fall apart when he attempts to fuse both. “House Of Cards” featuring Kate Rose really faceplants due to the phoned in hook and Prozak’s fairly sappy rhymes all wrapped in alternative rap/rock more in line with Crazy Town or Everlast. Follow-up track “Erased” is thematically the same no matter of how heightened the energy becomes. “My Life” featuring Wrekonize and Bernz is just as confusing. Does it want to be Metallic or Eminem? Too bad those moments do either well. Thankfully, the titular track has that speed-up bounce that’s almost become a sonic trademark of Strange Music’s brand. Doesn’t hurt having Mackenzie O’Guin add her angelic voice to the hook.
Disappointing that the best fusion of both takes place on Black Ink closer and lead single “Your Creation.” Nonetheless, the album is another solid effort from Prozak. Longtime fans already know the drill. Everyone else may find slight fascination in his twisted world.