When I first listened to Milo, I was amused, but not impressed. I’m not a huge fan of novelty in music, and his verbose word usage and nerdy subject matter struck me as just that. He seemed like a comedy rapper. However, as time has gone on, and I’ve listened to more of his material, I’ve realized that my first impression was quite inaccurate (although he is still a nerd). As such, I’m going to turn around and talk about some of the things Milo does that I like.
He picks good samples. Milo has an album out called “Milo Takes Baths,” in which he takes samples exclusively from the electronic artist Baths‘ discography, and turns them into hip-hop tracks. I’m a big fan of Baths, so you could imagine that such a project would appeal to me. That’s not the only reason I like Milo Takes Baths, though. Baths is a glitch-hop artist (of sorts), and his tracks have clever, clearly-defined beats that beg for the kind of adoption that Milo has granted them. Their tone is playful, and it really set Milo up perfectly for songs like this. It’s hard not to smile. If there’s one regret I have for the album, it’s that he didn’t use Lovely Bloodflow (my favorite Baths song).
Although Milo Takes Baths got my attention, it’s not the only place that his adeptness at sampling stands out. Like Lil B, Milo has a knack for putting together really good beats that keep your attention on the song regardless of lyrical content. Take “almost cut my hair (for Crosby)“, which takes a very minimal sample from here and goes a long way with it. I’d say this song is Milo talking about how he sees himself as a debutant rapper, but even if you don’t follow his words (and I honestly still think the chorus is nonsense), the song is still very good due to the beat.
His lyrics are intelligent. As you’ve probably noticed by listening to the tracks posted so far, Milo has an “interesting” lyrical style. He walks a fine line shared by Aesop Rock in that an argument could be made that he is superfluous and self-important. This was, of course, what initially turned me off to Milo. It is true that he drops a lot of convoluted references¹, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because it makes for interesting listening. Let’s listen to and discuss legends of the hidden temple. This song seems like a self-deprecating reminiscence about a girl he misses, which is common enough as songwriting material. What isn’t so common are references to DBZ, or any of the other things in the song. He’s showing us parts of himself in this song: things that he likes, things that he grew up with, things that he’s seen. It might seem like a fundamental property of lyricism, but things just don’t work out that way — being able to express yourself in a way that others understand you is a tough skill to master.
I know hardly anything about Milo, but through his lyrics alone (in songs like post hoc ergo propter hoc or folk-metaphysics), I can tell that he is well-read, he has at least a cursory knowledge of philosophy, history, and psychology, he has spent a lot of time on the internet, and he has nerdy hobbies. I’d undoubtedly find out more about him if I attempted to study his lyrics further. This is an uncommon quality in music, even among very good artists.
He’s amusing. I don’t consider Milo’s flow to be good, at least not traditionally speaking. He rambles, and seemingly talks to himself. He doesn’t put on a voice, or emphasize words any differently than how he would if he were just talking regularly, without music. His rejection of ‘the norm” is pretty obvious in all of his tracks, but I’ll cite folk-metaphysics, 2nd. ed. because it’s what I’m listening to right now. It’s really his lyrics and the genuine nature of his personality that carry his tracks. What can I say? It’s different, and I think it works well. And for now, I haven’t seen any hip-hop artist do better than Milo at what he does.