milo gets final cut on ‘Plain Speaking’

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The miloraps bandcamp page is splattered with alternative nom de plumes. He’s rory ferreira aka milo aka scallops hotel aka dugen nash… The list goes on. This refusal to bear a single name properly reflects the eclectic and all-encompassing nature of his art form. In short, milo‘s convictions transcend those of a single man.

Born from the internet, his growth has been digitally documented. Beginning with I wish my brother rob was here back in 2011, milo has since soared to such heights as Pitchfork-lauded Toothpaste Suburb, released last year under Hellfyre Club. In the span of four years since the onset, countrywide tours, frequent shifts in permanent addresses, and an eventual plopping into L.A. have all served to melt and mold milo’s music into its latest feat: Plain Speaking.

Plain Speaking marks the second project released under Scallops Hotel, following 2013’s poplar grove (or how to rap with a hammer) where milo traced his daily anxieties over rickety beats. The new 12 track record boasts a charge into untraversed territory, headed by Scallops Hotel’s first shot at self-production. Compared with past projects, most notably the dense complexities of the Riley Lake-produced things that happen at day and Calvalcade mixtapes, Plain Speaking speaks softly. Rooted in loops and often bathed in a grainy white noise icing, it challenges any contemporary fixation with incomprehensible depth or earthquaky 808s. The production here feels more like a rainy week pouring out gently from a colossal man’s suffering.

Song arrangements also step away from accepted hip-hop norms. milo blurs distinctions between songs, between hook and non-hook. Things bleed together. “gnosis, Black nationalism, rice” begins with a milo-beat boxed kick and snare which are eventually smothered in their imitated instrument counterparts. It becomes apparent that Plain Speaking‘s construction stems from the mind of a single individual, a maelstrom of mind denouncing the bifurcation between MC and producer. milo bangs, milo sings, and milo writes.

In Plain Speaking, milo calls on the aid of longtime friends Safari Al and DUNZO DONALDS, as well as Ernst Hemlock (aka Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands. Yes, he raps). He gets a mixing assist from Riley Lake and mastering by Daddy Kev. So to call this the piece of a one-man band neglects the well-founded fortress of milo’s relationships as well as the near digital stretch of his understanding. A known boaster/melancholy man/people-sympathizer, all personalities get their fair dose of limelight on Plain Speaking. Sometimes all in the same song. On “gnosis, Black nationalism, rice,” milo first takes his place as “a clumsy thinking, a mumbling in-betweener” before admitting he’s “not a dumby” before a scathing shot at others to stop talking about their skills and to demonstrate. Even on Plain Speaking‘s pompous jam “roc marciano riff suite 1,” milo admits to a brittleness and weakness before declaring “I’m pompous, big fucking ego, which means I am pure evil.”

The common ground linking these various states is the awareness that oozes forth from each representation. On “glottal stop” he raps, “you’re wondering why you’re breathing, and I have as well.” Whatever differences distance our paths from milo’s, he’s quick to recognize the similarities. He parades the human struggle, its first chair spokesperson. He connects us all through this web of birth and death, sewing a sense of relatedness in a disconnected world. On “171: man and the cosmos” he confesses, “I am stupid. And even I find it stupendous to be alive, to be alive, to be alive. Imagine that. To be alive, and you squandered it debating which Pawn Star was awesomeist. And I squandered it debating why Schopenhauer is awesomeist. And we felt no guilt.” milo spends half his time illuminating how we’re different, the other half illuminating how we’re the same, all resulting in that bubbly contradiction burrowed deep in the chest of humanity. On “the oprah winfrey show” he decides that, “fuck you is not the code word.” He targets an enemy only to realize the mirror before the crosshairs, gently lowering his assault.

Plain Speaking is an experiment. It’s one dude pouring out the entirety of his being and then toggling through social media to observe its reception. milo finally has final cut, and that’s a dangerous power up. On “true nen” he reveals that he “spent experience points on stealth, cunning, silence, and exile.” Plain Speaking is just the latest threshold of milo’s selected skill tree. It re-arouses feelings of all the hardheaded convictions of a younger milo while furthering the new experience-wrought tact of an older one. In his most mature feat yet, milo harangues us and hugs us all in the same sentence. He is at the same time both that “us” and one from the other side of time. If we’re OK, he’s OK. From the prince of cocoa butter himself, here’s the rap parade you were promised: