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ALLBLACK – TY4FWM (Album)

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Oakland MC AllBlack can’t help but laugh. Before getting on the phone with me in March, he was tending to a comedy of errors in his home. “They were mounting one of my TVs up on the walls, so I’m trying to talk to the TV mounters while I’m trying to give my daughter a pacifier, but she keeps spitting it out,” AllBlack says. “It was crazy. Then I got this call that I can’t miss. I was so overwhelmed. I just sat back and busted out laughing. I’m just like, it’s good stress.”

He has reason to be calm. AllBlack, born D’Andre Sams, has dealt with much stickier situations. On his most recent project, last October’s No Shame 3, he’s confessional and raw about a life of hustling, trapping, and everything in between. Across the rapper’s discography are clear-eyed missives about a life spent going down the wrong path. It’s a long and winding journey that’s taken Black all over California and, briefly, to Atlanta, where he tells me he used to hype his friends’ music at strip clubs before ever touching a microphone.

In 2013, he was arrested on weed charges and moved back to Oakland where, a few years later, he recorded “Dallas Cowboys Starter” basically on a whim. The track found Black essentially inventing his own flow. The bubbling rhyme schemes and intricate storytelling of Bay Area staples like Luniz and Too Short were evident, but there was a dash of something close to Detroit rap’s rapid-fire delivery, too. Still, AllBlack didn’t want to release any music. To him, it was too personal, and becoming a rapper was nowhere in the plans. His friends leaked the track on Soundcloud anyway, and the rest was history.

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