It’s hard to believe that “The Starting 5” is Black-I’s debut project. The Dallas based rap duo comprised of The Black Depths and Ike-Q sounds as though they’ve been rapping together since childhood. The way they rap back and forth with each other and feed off each other’s energy can be likened to Eminem & Royce Da 5’9” on the “Bad Meets Evil” album or Tyler the Creator and A$AP Rocky on the track “Potato Salad”.
Rap duos can be hard to pull off. It typically isn’t because of lack of talent, but lack of chemistry. It tends to take a lot of hard work for two artists to come together and sound comfortable spitting together (especially if the two haven’t know each other for long). These two make it sound easy. When done right, two can almost sound like one perfectly synced entity. The Black Depths and Ike-Q have accomplished this, and it is only their first attempt.
As the title hints, this EP revolves around the themes of sports and athletes while at the same time speaking about serious topics such as drug usage, mental health and the struggles of poverty. Although it’s only 5 songs, the project is packed with content.
My inner Hip-Hop nerd comes out when I hear rappers spit lyrical bars over boom-bap beats. This EP is full of it. As The Black Depths and Ike-Q take turns rapping, there is never a shortage of witty wordplay and intellectual lyricism. It’s nice to hear rappers who value these qualities in their music as opposed to just trying to chase the current trends.
My personal favorite song on the EP is “Ali’s Feet”. After a clip of Ali speaking, The Black Depths and Ike-Q go back and forth with precision comparing themselves to the legend. It’s very easy to visualize their words and the beat is dope and catchy.
Overall, this EP is a great start for Black-I. As time goes on and they develop themselves individually, their chemistry as a group will grow and their music will only improve. I look forward to hearing their first true album.