Popular Demand – Black Milk

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He has that laid back D- swagger, he has the smoothed out beats notorious in the Big Mitten, so with the passing of Jay Dee and Proof, Royce the 5'9″ drunk driving the whip, and just a general lack of output from the Detroit scene, Black Milk could not put out an album at a better time. The D needs him… bad, even if only to remind us that the city has a hip hop scene.

Black Milk sounds like a J. Dilla understudy, there's no getting around it. It is heart-warmingly pleasant in that we lost a studio legend and an admirer stepped in to try to fill that gap. He even brings that laissez-faire rhyme flow that might drop a gem line here or there, but mostly works to lay in the cut. But, for an emerging producer, crossing into mic-clutching territory, this creates problems.

“Making it hard for n****s to get on like hammock,” is Black Milk at his cleverest. It is simple, humorous and doesn't intrude on the laid back vibe . “N****s start laying like Jews with the face to the floor and praying, hoping I don't make shit,” is Milk at his worst; Muslims pray with the grill to the carpet, Milk. He is right, producer rappers get the most criticism, but this is not being nit picky, not even Phife can float like gravity, no matter how classic the song.

Then there is the reliance on the soul sample. The technique has become so widespread that soul is just stacks of flapjacks, add hand claps for syrup. It is when Milk gets creative, like on “Say Something” that he separates himself from the soul jackers. The Busta Rhymes humming sample is the best and most subdued use of Busta's voice since “Busta's Lament;” another classic Dillatroit export. Even if Milk is borrowing the technique, it is a promising song, because Milk sticks to his signature rhyme bravado and you can't hate on an Ol' Dirty Bastard homage on the chorus.

The title is fitting for Black Milk; there is a definite popular demand for Detroit to reassert its status in hip hop. But, Milk is not quite ready to carry the mic and lead the Motor City out of its immobility. Royce is out of jail, and when he's not doing community service, I bet he'll be in the studio. And though it might be a bonus cut, Milk has One Be Lo on the record, also a good person to know. So, the good news is he has the talent and the friends to potentially put some fuel in the pistons and rev up the scene; he just might want to hold off on the solo tip for a minute.