(Stones Throw Records)
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Active since the mid-'90s, Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson became a fixture of his scene, putting in years of work and earning the respect of both street emcees and experimental beatmakers. Early on he rapped as part of a larger collective but first achieved wider exposure on records by eccentric left-field producers like Dabrye Four Tet, and one of his biggest admirers, Detroit's own J Dilla. Dilla helped produce his 2008 solo debut Ode to the Ghetto, as did other acclaimed producers like Peanut Butter Wolf and Madlib. Over the next decade he continued the name he'd made for himself through constant features on other artists' tracks, mixtapes, and strong studio albums like 2015's Detroit's Son.
Guilty Simpson (born Byron Gardner Simpson) began rapping as Guilt in the '90s, later changing his name to Guilty Simpson. He first honed his distinctive flow in the mid-'90s as a member of Detroit hip-hop brigade Tha Almighty Dreadnaughtz. The group made many self-released and limited-edition recordings, but those independently made albums and mixtapes are extremely rare outside of the Motor City. Thus, his proper debut came by way of Jay Dee, who threw him on the song "Strapped," which was recorded for Champion Sound (2003), an album Jay Dee did jointly with Madlib. Thrust into the lead of a new class of Detroit MCs in the mid- to late 2000s, Simpson was called on to make many guest appearances for various Detroit and other Michigan artists, including Dabrye (Two/Three), Jay Dee (The Shining, Ruff Draft), Monica Blaire (Portraits of Me), and Black Milk (Popular Demand), throughout 2006 and 2007. Amidst all that, in late 2006 he officially joined the roster of L.A.-based Stones Throw Records, one of the label homes of Jay Dee (who persistently pushed the company to sign him) before he passed away earlier in the year.
After appearing on the label's Chrome Children compilation and tour, Simpson steadily worked on his solo debut as well as a collaborative LP with MC/producer Black Milk and Boot Camp Clik lyricist Sean Price. Finally, in March of 2008, Guilty released his solo debut, Ode to the Ghetto, which featured beats from Madlib, Mr. Porter, and Black Milk, among others. Madlib would be the sole producer of his 2010 effort, OJ Simpson. In 2011 he joined Sean Price and Black Milk in the group Random Axe, who released their self-titled debut album that same year. A year later he joined the underground crew Quakers on their 2012 self-titled LP, and in 2015 he teamed with Quakers member and producer Katalyst for the album Detroit's Son. The next several years saw the rapper releasing several smaller projects while leading up to his next proper album. In 2018 he released the MED-assisted mixtape Loyalty, and followed several months later with Carved from Stone, a mini-album that paired six new tracks with their instrumental versions. - Cyril Cordor, Rovi