Black Milk’s Reign

Black Milk’s Reign
For all of the social and economic turmoil that has long been synonymous with Detroit, nothing seems to slow the culture-defining musical contributions that flow endless from the Motor City’s creative wellspring. The history is well documented, from the joyous sounds of Motown soul, through the Metropolistic 4 a.m. thump of Detroit techno, and culminating in the man who was arguably hip-hop’s most influential producer, J. Dilla.

Fittingly, it was from within the shadow of this last sacred figure that like-minded beatsmith Black Milk cut his teeth and earned his rep. But with the positive shift in direction evident on new offering Tronic, the scrappy MC/producer is out to prove that there’s more to his sound than the techniques cribbed from the soul-anchored lessons learned through his time in the Slum Village stable.

"I don’t really like to do the same thing twice, so I knew if I came with Popular Demand again — which would be more soul samples — people would be like ‘alright, Black only do one style of music’ and try to put me in a box,” he explains of a shift that has taken him towards more intricate rhythms and futuristic synthesizer tendencies. It’s a fact made plain by the disgusting backbeat and piercing live horns of lead single "Give the Drummer Some,” a clear frontrunner for track of the year.

It’s little wonder then that Black Milk has quickly risen to the ranks of must-have producer, and as he goes, so goes a new phase in the legacy of post-Dilla Detroit hip-hop. "Dilla was definitely the creator of that certain sound that people love of Detroit,” Black exclaims. "Everybody that came after him, we all went to the ‘school of Dilla,’ like me, Waajeed, and Kareem [Riggins]. Now we’re trying to evolve that sound into something new, while still keeping those same elements involved.”