Despite some notable work with fellow Detroit native J Dilla (the two collaborated as First Down in the mid- ’90s), Ronnie Cash (a.k.a. Phat Kat) has spent several trying years attempting to make music amid complicated record company politics. Finally, it seems, he is reaping some rewards for his persistence. Carte Blanche, his second full-length effort, finds Cash on Look Records, a label that embraces his vision and gives him the chance to develop his futuristic take on hip-hop in a welcoming environment.

Always bent on showing the real Detroit to the rest of the world, Cash also makes a concerted effort on Carte Blanche to showcase local talent from the city, rather than seeking out the typical celebrity guests. (The only presence immediately recognizable on the album is the late Dilla himself.) He focuses on the spirit of Detroit, and what it means to have a unique sense of identity in a historically complex city. 

Carte Blanche is out March 20, 2007 on Look.

Cameron Octigan

1. Nasty Ain’t It?
2. Get It Started
3. My Old Label
4. Cold Steel
5. Danger
6. Vessels
7. Lovely
8. Cash Em Out
9. Game Time
10. Survival Kit
11. Nightmare
12. Hard Enuff
13. True story Pt. 2
14. Don’t Nobody Care About Us