The past can take a back seat when the present is still moving. This is particularly the case with the experienced Black Milk, a rapper and producer at heart (in both roles) who a few months ago released his latest album, Everybody Good?, a work (with a pandemic weighing it down) in which he tries to find out about others while self-examining. With guest appearances from masters such as Raphael Saadiq or Phonte (both of whom appear on “No Wish”, a rap by and for grown people that will go straight onto the list of 2023’s brightest musical moments), the twelve songs convey the Detroit artist’s superlative understanding of what funk, soul and jazz can be when put through the hip-hop lens. As well as focusing on his own career, at the turn of the decade he also found time to produce a full-length album by the legendary Cypress Hill (Back In Black, 2022) or, for example, create a super-inspired instrumental for Mick Jenkins (“Carefree”, 2020).
So let’s look back a little. In a career that has spanned 20 years of artistic creation, Milk began professionally with the beat for “What Is This”, a track by Slum Village for Trinity (Past, Present and Future), the group’s first full-length without J Dilla in the line-up – two years later, the author of Donuts rhymed on a production of his in “Reunion”. Master and disciple side by side. From then on, his name became more and more prominent without asterisks or footnotes, mainly due to the quality of the solo discography he built up with records like Tronic, No Poison No Paradise or If There’s a Hell Below, but also through collaborative projects with Sean Price & Guilty Simpson (Random Axe), Danny Brown (Black And Brown) or the band Nat Turner (The Rebellion Sessions) – in the latter he refined the formula (combining sampling with the instrumentation requested from musicians he trusted) that would distinguish him from many others (Oddisee is the only one who seems to be more or less on the same frequency and level).
If the rhyming skills are certified, it’s really in the field of productions that you’ll find the greatest number of gems: in addition to the various names mentioned above, Pharaohe Monch, GZA, Little Brother, Wiki, Quelle Chris, Open Mike Eagle, Blu, Bun B, Black Thought, Kemba or Jack White (yes, that one) have also been blessed. But enough name-dropping and one final suggestion: go to your streaming service of choice and search for “Really Doe”. Elite posse cut (with verses by Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt and Ab-Soul) and beat signed by… Black Milk. (Alexandre Ribeiro)