Milo - Things That Happen At Day/Things That Happen At Night
There are few things I've loved about all the opportunities Scratched Vinyl has afforded me than watching the career of Milo take off. When he dropped his debut mix tape in the fall of 2011, it was clear that not only did this kid have talent, but he had a unique voice. Since that time, he’s refined his skills and become a stronger and performer, without losing any of his unique delivery and point of view that initially drew me in. With his latest release, the double EP Things That Happen At Day/Things That Happen At Night, he makes his debut on Hellfyre Club, the label started by Nocando, joining a roster that includes such talents as Open Mike Eagle.
When some artists drop a double EP (which isn’t often, mind you), it can feel like a cop out. It gives the appearance that they knew their material wasn’t up to snuff, so they didn’t want fans to treat it with the expectations of an LP. With Milo, though, he actually uses the double EP to great effect, pairing two collections of five songs that compliment and contrast each other quite well. It might help to know that Milo is a philosophy student at a small college in Wisconsin, and this idea of exploring the nature of duality with a double EP is right in his wheelhouse. Of course, Milo isn’t the pretentious and insufferable philosophy major that you could barely put with when you were in college. Instead, he’s a young guy who’s nerdy and funny who can casually weave in musings on the deeper meaning of certain aspects of life . It never feels out of place or begging for attention when Milo makes a reference to Kierkegaard, as he’s just as likely to make a reference to Dragonball-Z and give equal weight to both. Listening to these EPs, it becomes clear that Milo has become better with dropping choruses that tie the songs together and help them stick in our heads. This makes for a great balance with his wordy verses, where you’ll often go on a journey from short anecdote to stream-of-consciousness pondering over the meaning of said anecdote, with several pit stops for wry asides as well. Things That Happen At Day is produced entirely by Riley Lake, who provides Milo with some beautiful down tempo backdrops that really open up and let Milo explore the bright side of life. The EP culminates in the absolutely enchanting “Almond Milk Paradise,” which features Safari Al gently singing the chorus to perfect effect. Things That Happen At Night is produced entirely by Analog(ue) Tape Dispenser, this time with a darker tone to the EP, but still with a slower tempo and plenty of space to the tracks to allow Milo to explore subject matters in a similar, albeit contrasting, fashion. “the Gus Haynes cribbage league,” which features Busdriver, finds Milo at his most aggressive and darkest tone. He shows that even though he is a generally upbeat dude, that doesn’t mean he’s not susceptible to be hurt by things like institutionalized racism and forced expectations. As a nerdy vegan philosophy major who loves folk music, wrestling, and video games, he doesn’t fit neatly into many stereotypes of a young brown-skinned rapper. With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense that Busdriver would jump on this track, since he’s spent his spent his entire career not fitting neatly into a box, and both emcees give listeners a lot of food for thought. The EP ends with “post hoc ergo propter hoc (for Schopenhauer),” which perfectly uses a sample of a female vocal line to give the track a haunting quality to it as it soars over an enveloping bass line. However, you’ll do well to stick around after the track for one last treat, which comes in as one of the happiest rap tracks ever, featuring Open Mike Eagle and Milo rapping about their dream hip hop pizza party guest list. I can only hope that one day it becomes a reality.
There’s few thrills greater than watching an artist make the move from having a lot of talent and potential to dropping a project where their talent is fully realized. With Things That Happen At Day/Things That Happen At Night, Milo has really come into his own and has taken it to the next level. He’s fully comfortable in his own skin and with his skills on the mic, and it’s all come together nicely to make for one of the best releases of this young year.