During the period around the birth of hip hop, traits such as quirkiness, nerdiness, philosophical prose, and oddball, spoken word lyricism would have seemed entirely out of place and implausible among other common characteristics of the art. However, as of 2015, these alternative qualities thrive under the umbrella of underground rap.
The Wisconsin-turned-Californian rapper Milo utilizes all of the aforementioned features to push his newest project So the Flies Don’t Come up against the tightest seams of originality. The album explores melancholy randomness. It ventures into nihilistic philosophy and chaotic meaninglessness, staring into a void of obscurity. It shines a light on darkness, looping into an incessant pattern of uselessness.
Milo grew up participating in slam poetry, so spoken word recitation has continually permeated and even clouded his projects. Releases such as a toothpaste suburb pace punctual delivery in a chopped up manner. However, with So the Flies Don’t Come, Milo blends this monotonous, steadily progressive poetic flow with a more adventurous, experimental style.
The release’s instrumentals are composed entirely by producer Kenny Segal, and only further isolate the listener. Beats on songs such as “Re: Animist” eerily haunt, composed of brewing doom. The looping instrumentals bounce lazily back and forth, enabling Milo to project his pessimistic outlook onto the listener.
Milo continuously revisits complex thematic content. Throughout So the Flies Don’t Come, discussions are established about inevitability, race, self-projection, and obscurity. Milo stands for all those suppressed in emotion and spirit, and drags his apathy to mean more than himself. Cumbersome, near-opaque, and self-rejecting yet self-proclaiming, his lyricism is nowhere near surface level.
The track “Going No Place” splices a subtly darkened sample of San Sebastian Strings’ “While Drifting” with the album’s most simple rapping from Milo and the featured Elucid. Milo almost delights at some points in the song, mixing joyful elements in his brew of inconspicuousness. The track is followed by “True Nen” featuring Open Mike Eagle. This song comments on patience and excess, opening with “Before I wrote my first rap/ I learned how to be totally silent/ Made a necessity out of virtue/ And gallivanted as though pious”. The consistent flow of the track plays and dances with the soulful and choppy Kenny Segal composed samples. The name of the track itself stems from the anime Hunter X Hunter, and Milo acknowledges his own nerdiness by comparing himself and his producer to characters and events related to the show.
“An Encyclopedia” strings minimal instrumentals with self-observance regarding identity and societal placement: “This is an encyclopedia containing the Latin names of the ugliest parts of my insides/ I’m choosing to use it like a compass in times of peril/ No one taught me the language of rap song, I was born speaking it”. Additionally, “@yomilo” addresses critics and fans alike, taking the form of a Twitter questionnaire to tackle questions and provide answers, such as: “Yo Milo why you front like you’re enlightened?/ Because presently it’s advantageous/ Now please tell me what the bad man’s name is”. The flowing background music provides an actually danceable rhythm, contrasting with the dark haunting beauty and underground sound of other tracks.
Milo tells it how it is. Or rather, Milo tells it how it is inside his own caged consciousness, distorted with gloom. So the Flies Don’t Come articulates inexpressible emotions, toying with introspective and introvertive ideas that only come on sunny days spent inside wishing the sky would storm. Every subconsciousness holds its own Milo.
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