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Black Milk – Popular Demand

Posted by Joe Lazar on March 17, 2007

Black Milk // Popular Demand // Fat Beats // Release Date: March 13, 2007

Detroit took some blows last year, with the untimely deaths of J Dilla and Proof, and also Eminem officialy calling it quits. The news of all of the above shook up the hip hop scene of the Motor City. Dilla and Proof will be remembered forever, but Detroit is now looking for the future. The city has been searching for someone to put the D on their back. Black Milk may just be that guy. 

Black Milk (born Curtis Cross) had his career rise when Slum Village came knocking on his door to produce almost the entirety of their Detroit Deli LP. He immediately drew comparisons to J Dilla, who also worked heavily with Slum Village. Black continued messing with the boards, including one of last year’s underground gems “Let’s Go”, which found Pharoahe Monch spitting over a charismatic Black beat.

On Popular Demand, Black Milk stays on the boards, but it also finds him as an MC. Producer/MCs are usually average at best. RZA and Dre are both smart enough to let others control the mic. Although, I will defend Kanye (bring it). Black is not a Biggie or even an MC Ren by any means, but his confidence is enough to make him stand tall, even if he can wobble a bit at times. He knows his beats are the shit, as do I, so I grant him permission to spit as many generic boasts as he wants.

The napkins and silverware are set with the title track. Cameras are flashing, as the media tries to get their hands on Black; very Pretty Toney-esque. Black’s knack for implanting soul samples is introduced when the song fades into a laid back, soul driven head nodder.

But the album really lifts the kickstand with, “Sound The Alarm.” When Black tells me to sound the alarm in the chorus, I find myself doing a very fast and uncontrollable Justin Timberlake “What Goes Around…,” circle motion. The track also features a solid mintue brought to you by Guilty Simpson. “Insane” is another track that is built to rock with drums pumping fast, with a “C.R.E.A.M.,” like piano sound trailing in the background.

Black makes sure that he isn’t stereotyped as a backpacker right away. ‘I’m underground, but don’t get it twisted man/ I’m in the Range, and I’m thinking ’bout the Escalade,’ states Black, later saying ‘Cause I don’t walk with a backpack on, don’t put me in a box.’ Sure, most of the lyrics are about how awesome Black is, but on tracks like “Three + Sum,” Black puts a spin on the norm. Black rhymes about playing two (and some) girls, but then at the climax, Black finds out the two girls he is playing, are also playing him — together. ‘Next day I get a call from my Charlene chick, like can you come get me and my girl real quick/ Remember where I live, in apartment six/ I’ma go get her, cause I need another fix/ So I head to her spot, give her bell a ring, open up the door, and guess who is friends with Charlene?’ The track ends on a high note, with Black laying it down with both of them. He claims he has the affair on video tape.

Black’s necessity to have soul samples in his songs, hurts him at times, with some songs sounding too much like the “next big thing” on Soundclick or Myspace. But by some, I mean very few.

Popular Demand provides a new face to the hip hop scene. It is not revolutionary. It sounds like stuff you have heard before — Dilla and Kanye — but there is no denying the force that Black Milk is.


— Joe Lazar


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