It’s easy to forget just how much weight the names Brian Burton and Tarik Trotter – better known as Danger Mouse and Black Thought – carry in the music industry today. Their names are never too far out of mind, but producer credits and talk show duties can sometimes cloud the impact of their actual music. So, with the release of the excellent Cheat Codes (out Friday, August 12th) here’s a quick reminder of just how accomplished these two gentlemen are.
After gaining widespread attention with the iconic Grey Album (a mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and The Beatles’ “White Album”), Danger Mouse quickly established himself as a powerhouse, genre-less producer. He released collaborative full-lengths with the likes of MF DOOM and Sparklehorse, acted as a band member for Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells, and helmed the boards for artists like Gorillaz, Beck, ASAP ROCKY, Adele, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. At this point, having a sticker on your project that reads “produced by Danger Mouse” is nearly as valuable as having one that reads “Grammy-winning.” In fact, the two often find themselves placed on the same projects.
Black Thought, on the other hand, has spent his career in the spotlight. Fronting the legendary, highly influential hip-hop group The Roots, Black Thought has finally begun to be recognized for what he is — one of the best MCs of all time. Whether it’s sparked by the increased visibility that comes from his tenure on The Tonight Show or his 2017 viral freestyle on Funk Flex, Black Thought topping more and more “Best Rappers Ever” lists proves that there is at least some justice in this world.
Before Black Thought teased Cheat Codes in 2020, though, few could have predicted the record’s arrival. Sure, the two had run in similar circles for years, establishing a personal relationship during that time, but each seemed to be set on their own path. Black Thought was in the midst of his Streams of Thought series, was penning the music and performing in the Off-Broadway production Black No More, and, of course, was continuing to be one of the best parts of The Tonight Show. =
Danger Mouse, for his part, hadn’t dropped a full-length hip-hop project since 2005’s Danger Doom, instead playing a larger role in the alternative rock scene as a go-to producer for megastars (like U2) and indie favorites (like Parquet Courts) alike.