Although 2006 was a hard year for Detroit hip-hop, with the death of both Proof and J Dilla, it brought more attention to the scene than it had experienced since the rise of Eminem in 1999. Suddenly, everyone was heralding the genius of the late James Yancey, giving him shout outs and crediting him as a major inspiration. Of course, for some, these claims are actually true, and can be proven in their work. One such artist who falls into this category is Black Milk, who besides having already produced tracks for Slum Village, was also part of the duo B.R. Gunna with RJ Rice, Jr. On his first official solo debut, the Fat Beats-issued Popular Demand, Black shows off his skills both behind the boards and the mic. Comparisons to Dilla, and in some ways Madlib and even Kanye West, abound, much in part thanks to their mutual penchant for soul sample-based beats over hollow drum tracks. While Dilla's production may have been more inventive, and less dependent upon the same formula, Black Milk wins in rhymes (he even addresses the idea of producer/MCs, who "get the most criticism/Until they heard Black, now they gonna feel different," and in this case, what he says is correct). The rapper is able to adjust his flow to fit his beats accordingly, going from spitting quick 16s on "Watch Em" and "Insane" to slowing things down on tracks like "Lookatusnow" or "One Song." In true hip-hop form, Black invites a number of hometown guests to appear on Popular Demand, including Guilty Simpson, Elzhi and T3 from Slum Village, Baatin, Phat Kat, and One Be Lo from Binary Star, but he holds his own with them, isn't overshadowed by his elders' lines. He's adamant about not being placed "in a box," and so he shies away from overtly socially conscious lyrics and instead rhymes about women, hanging out with his friends, music, and of course, his own skills. "The beats is dangerous, and the rhymes is crazy, and my flow is on that new-age sh*t/So I'm like, 'Damn, how can they hate this?'/But niggas still can't relate like two kids that ain't kin," he spits in "Shut It Down." Maybe that's true; but for anyone who wants to hear the rebirth of Detroit hip-hop, there's no reason to look further than Black Milk.