Published Feb 25, 2007In the past few months, underground hip-hop circles have been abuzz about the emergence of Detroit producer/MC Black Milk. Truth be told, Black Milk has been working behind the scenes for a few years now. His break came when Slum Village heard music from his beat tape on tour and requested he craft tracks for their Trinity album in the wake of J. Dillas decision to leave the group, and hes been part of their beat committee ever since. The influence J. Dilla has had on the sound of Detroits underground hip-hop scene is almost unavoidable and on Popular Demand, Black Milk doesnt exactly debunk this. The influence is felt on the leftfield low-end theories, the loosely kinetic drums, and his rhyme delivery is definitely indebted to J. Dillas legacy. However, what is impressive about Popular Demand is the sheer versatility of Black Milks production skills. From the arresting minimalism of "Insane to the soul-drenched "U, Black Milks ability to switch up his styles effortlessly, yet remain inherently soulful, impresses. Factor in his reckless rhyme style that feeds directly off his beats and youve got a sound, simply put, that does a body good.
Do the Dilla comparisons bother you?
In a way it does. I look at it as a compliment, yknow, to just be compared to the dude. At the same time Im not trying to do what he did. The only thing I want to copy from Dilla is being consistent and putting out good music like he did. Thats about it. Those are some real big shoes to fill; Im just trying to play my part.
Youre known mainly as a producer. What kind of beats make you want to rhyme?
I was rhyming before I was doing the beats. I like to try different things with the beats with that raw element without having to make everything so polished and so clean. It has to be a little different and a little edgy.
Last year was a difficult one for Detroit hip-hop, with the deaths of Dilla and Proof. Whats the mood in the scene now?
It was really tough when Dilla passed; it was real hard for everybody. We was down for a minute and we couldnt really create no music. When Proof passed, it was real big Proof was damn near the mayor of Detroit. So after that it upset me personally for a minute. But then I thought about it like, them dudes would want us to keep going, to keep repping, especially Proof, and to keep on putting out good music. I look at it like you never know when youre gonna leave the Earth, so Im trying to put out as much music as I can right now. (Fat Beats)