Since No Poison No Paradise, Black Milk’s music has been so stellar it’s literally orbiting the planet. His seminal production skills and progressive songwriting reflects his wide influence as a digger; adding avant garde jazz breakdowns in the middle of tracks and playing with structure to constantly challenge the popular perception of what rap sounds like in the 2000’s. It’s been a year since his last LP blew me away, and with this new 9 track EP the Detroit-based producer finds himself light-years ahead of the zeitgeist once again.
There Are Glitches is a noisy, piano-bashing deluge of sound that wakes you like a cold splash to the face, then slows to a crawl as his laidback elegance kicks in on Dirt Bells. ‘They sleepin on him hard yo’ is truth shrouded in cockyness; his rhymes may not spark the flame to change the world or politicize a generation into action, but they remain on point, with unpredictable vocal patterns that reflect the hours that went into writing them. The L sample, the descending cuts of sound overhead and the layers of percussion combine to make Ruffin one of the most instantly gratifying tunes on this new EP. Black Milk’s drums have always hit hard, but the bells on this track sound like they’re barely gripping on to the rollercoaster beat, the ragged feel intensified by the fear that it may careen off course any second, as spurts of static dance around the tracks’ top end.
That compulsion to experiment is indulged on the electronic whirrs throughout Silence. Lyrically he takes on the internet, technology and *cough* bloggers, ending the track with ‘everybody got an opinion and is a critic, silence’. His flow takes a more conventional twist on the funkified stomp of One For Dam. Fat Ray’s XL raps come coated in a self-assured swagger that matches the track’s bold approach, a confidence that the chorus scratches amplify. Guilty Simpson breaks down ‘The story of G‘ over the sixth track’s wistful whistles; Black Milk’s melody selection sounding like it came straight out of Morricone’s Eastwood period, with an ending beat that bangs. You can tell the amount of time the man must spend in the lab when nearly every track’s outro beat rivals most current producers A-game. You probably heard Cold Day when it dropped in early Feb; it comes thick with the Detroit sound he helped create, and like Sunday’s Best his knack for simple spins on vocal chops is salient. It’s the places he chooses to cut from that make his samples stand out, especially when he’s using them as creatively as on Cold Day’s verse under his fly rhymes.
Reagan‘s short stay captures a gritty 70’s crime drama in the bass-heavy loop that crawls slow, the loose hats in the sample offsetting Fat Ray’s dope verse as it builds with some simple scratches then lifts into Break‘s upbeat outro. The minute or so it takes to play out this amazing EP is brimming with sound; funk guitar stabs slide under electric guitar wails, perfect vocal chops pave the path to more L samples, and those amazing snare sounds he always bring to the mix are in full effect. His sample selection owes much more to record-collector nostalgia and obsessive break hunting than sample-pack instancy, and as before they interlock to create a narrative outside of his words; giving Glitches In The Break an identity that becomes more than just new tunes wrapped in fresh cover art. Although at times his delivery leans more towards the commercial side of rap; his underground credibility stays in firmly in tact due to his extensive musical knowledge, nerdy taste in vocal samples reminiscent of Cut Chemist and Shadow, and of course, his beat for The Reunion, which I take every opportunity to remind people of. This snapshot into Milk’s music is perfect for new fans to digest before delving into his deep back catalogue. His production is some of the most original since that the man that repped ‘more D than 12 Eminems’, and the many styles he takes you through on each new release makes for a chilled listen with tons of style, that invites you to blur your musical horizons far beyond any boom-bap boundaries that may be in place.
Go get Glitches In The Break digitally now from his bandcamp, and keep an eye out for the 12″ dropping on on Record Store Day, April 19th.