Label and release date: Worth Waves / Big Duke Productions (2017)
It’s always good to hear about a rapper and producer collaborating for a full album, especially when both artists have made good music together in the past, like King Chip and Big Duke.
King Chip and Big Duke come from the same area, Thornhill, have been collaborating for roughly a decade, or longer, and as King Chip says on KiD CuDi’s song Brothers, they have known each other since 1992, since they were children, and the affinity between them shows clearly on Thornhill.
Fans of King Chip will know that he often talks about his hometown; on 44108’s song Thornhill Dr (Us vs Them), King Chip speaks about the dark side of his area and police brutality, but the album Thornhill is anything but that and rather a diverse selection of music inspired by the place where the rapper grew up. Thornhill contains styles and topics you can find in King Chip’s first mixtape all the way through to his debut album but delivered in a more mature and refined way: NTDWY is about how those who aren’t in King Chip’s circle have no business being concerned about his activities, Lyin is a humorous song that questions deceitful acquaintances, Ride Out is a surprisingly good R&B collab, Blades is the kind of heavily chilled track that listeners have come to expect from King Chip while Drinking & Thinking is a super laidback song from the self-described master of the chilled flow.
All of this is complemented by Big Duke’s production, which on Thornhill has a slightly minimal and focused style – every sound matters and every instrument hits. You can hear this clearly on tracks where his production really stands out, like on Here I Go and Blades. Nothing is wasted in Big Duke’s instrumentals, and his efficient style makes room for King Chip’s rhymes as well as the features, which includes R&B legend Raheem DeVaughn and Trinidad James. Big Duke’s versatility shows on Thornhill, but despite the variety there is coherency in all of it.
Thornhill is an essential release in King Chip’s discography: it comes ten years after his first mixtape and shows the rapper is at his best. King Chip effortlessly takes control of every style he uses on Thornhill, and his vocal delivery and multiple flows – which have always been impressive – sound refined and sharper than ever.
Thornhill is an album that demonstrates the talents of the artists involved and also piques interest in Thornhill for listeners who have never been. It is a quiet reminder that the best music can be made by two talented artists who know each other well and who also have the ability to make what they do sound good.
You can buy Thornhill here