Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
Originality: (3 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (4 / 5) Lyrics: (3 / 5) Production: (5 / 5) Average: (3.8 / 5)
“I’m back on my black Bukowski bullshit”. That’s one of the first sentiments we hear on “Poet (Black Bean), the third album from the Maine by-way-of California rapper milo. His new album who told you to think??!!?!?!?! is both poignant and ponderous at times, and it provides musical and lyrical Easter eggs at each turn. Coming to prominence as a member of California hip-hop collective Hellfyre Club, which also gave us Anderson .Paak and Busdriver (who appears on this album’s closer), milo sounds more confident than ever over jazzy beats, and it brings to mind recent efforts like MIKE’s MAY GOD BLESS YOUR HUSTLE.
While not all of milo’s bars work as a cohesive statement – as he can come off as sounding scattered and unfocused on some tracks, the places where he is strongest is when he is trying to be reflective as opposed to rough. Many of the album’s best tracks are far too short, like the pulsing and rollicking “The Young Man Has A Point (Nurture) [feat. YOUNGMAN]”, which only features one verse from each rapper over one of the album’s best beats. That doesn’t keep milo from saying what he has to say. On “pablum//CELESKINGIII”, he raps: “At a sinister place where rap feel pitiful/Applied research to make the force field subliminal/Political climate turn your old Earth cynical/How it get lost in a small room, custodian of the statue”. It becomes obvious throughout who told you… that milo is fed up with both other rappers and the Trump era.
The greatest track on the album (or perhaps the most “complete”) is its centerpiece, “Sorcerer”. Milo delivers some of his greatest lyrics over a beat that sounds like it samples Stevie Wonder’s moog playing. The persistent themes of boredom and idle-living come to a head on the track: “And the stalactites in the back of my mind/When suffering was normalized/ I flourished in the lag time”, is the rapper putting this into a statement that’s both catchy and cerebral. Unfortunately, the song precedes one that is definitely not as good, the stale and somewhat awkward sounding “Take Advantage Of The Naysayer”.
It’s a mess at times, but overall who told you to think??!!?!?!?! is a pleasant forty two minutes of modern hip hop. On his second album for the Ruby Yacht label, milo makes a case for rappers who “turn the hum into the hymnal”, as he puts it on the penultimate track “Embroidery Machine”. He produces lyrical images in his head rather than just a regular rhyme, and while they sometimes come off as nonsensical and border on complete randomness, he proves himself as a young MC who is striving to join his friend Anderson .Paak in the top ranks.