Lyricist/producer Black Milk released his new album Tronic in late October. The Detroit-based star learned early on that he had the yearning for hip-hop, particularly producing. He started with an inexpensive drum and karaoke machine which led to him making samples. Slum Village got their hands on some of his music, leading Black Milk to having production credits on their mixtape Dirty District and their album Trinity.
Soon after, he formed B.R. Gunna with Fat Ray and Young RJ. Collectively they produced the follow up, Dirty District: Vol. 2, released in 2004. Milk’s self-released debut album, Sound of the City, led to his deal at Fat Beats Records in 2006.
In the same year he released the Broken Wax EP and in Spring 2007, his second album, Popular Demand. Since last winter he has paired with Aftermath artist Bishop Lamont and released the mixtape Caltroit. Milk released an album with Fat Ray titled The Set Up on March 4.
Most recently, he has done it again, having contributed to nearly all of the production of Elzhi’s album The Preface, released in August.
Tronic is entirely self produced and could be considered a unique tribute hip hop in its own right. Milk goes back to the basics of what hip-hop music used to be.
His use of turntables will remind fans of DJs like Grandmaster Flash or Premier. When you first hear a snippet, Milk sounds a little like Jay Z, but his flow resembles that of Lupe Fiasco.
The evidence of old-school embodiment in his records is impressive and his references to Beethoven and Hendrix in “Overdose” show that he is cultured and evolving as an artist. In “Long Story” he showcases a futuristic techno sound, with a true depiction of old-school hip hop, and on “Give the Drummer Sum” he shows true emcee status in the game with a vintage jazz sample and an organ playing along with horns and drums.
On the track entitled “Hold it down,” there is reminiscence of 80’s hits “Tainted Love” and “Somebody’s Watching Me.” On every track Black Milk lets his musicianship shine, with some form of instrumental being played for a while after he stops his rhythmic flow.
I would only recommend Tronic to those who love old school hip hop, but can appreciate the new. I respect the fact that Milk works with up and coming artists, but to get his work mainstream he should reach out to mainstream artists.
The techno feel along with instruments in the album are unique, but the subject matter feels inconsistent. Tronic showcases Black Milk’s musicianship and relevance to what’s happening in today’s society. Songs like “Reppin For You,” “The Matrix,” and “Elec(Outro)” are my least favorite.
His hard work and dedication to doing the majority of his own work and experimenting with upcoming artists like himself, show his ripeness. All in all I feel that listeners will be able to recognize Black Milk for his artistic skills as an emcee/producer through Tronic.