Black Milk - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Black Milk Does A Body Good

February 2007

Music provides intangible nourishment for all human beings. Detroit's own, Black Milk is a producer/emcee who nourishes listeners with his hip-hop. While many hip-hop fans associate Eminem with Detroit, a slew of underground music lovers have a deeper appreciation for Detroit's hip-hop scene. Black Milk is just one in a multitude of the Motor City's new generation of producers who are all metaphorical sons of the legendary J Dilla. Recently departed producer/emcee, J Dilla (a.k.a Jay Dee) laid the foundation of Detroit's independent hip-hop sound. Dilla was not only an original member of Slum Village and The Ummah, he produced music for A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village, The Roots, Common, Phat Kat, Busta Rhymes, and many more. Although J Dilla's influence spawned a worldwide growth, his musical seed was planted in his hometown of Detroit. His musical seed especially flourished within the Motor City. Fueled by Dilla's inspirational legacy, a myriad of Detroit producers continue their growth. A few examples of these producers include Lacks, Karriem Riggins, Lacks, and Wajeed. As with every garden, a few flowers bloom in such a way that demands appreciation. Black Milk is a significant producer who displays an exceptional promise. When the Motor City lost J Dilla, the city was profoundly wounded. The nourishment within Black Milk's music has helped to heal Detroit.

Barak Records and Black Milk have a fascinating history. Originally, Black Milk partnered with Young RJ to form the group, BR Gunna. Young RJ is the son of RJ Rice, owner of Barak Records. As a production team, BR Gunna produced admirable tracks for Slum Village and Phat Kat. On Barak Records, BR Gunna was responsible for a majority of the production work for most of "Dirty District" compilation series. BR Gunna and Slum Village were the heart of Barak Records. BR Gunna recorded a complete album, but Barak Records shelved the project. The BR Gunna album may never be able to reach the fans. Problems continued to plague Barak Records. Phat Kat left the label to sign with Look Records. Due to an assorted mount of problems, Baatin and Slum Village parted ways. During my interview with Baatin, he told me that he would never work with Barak Records again. There was little hope that he would work with Slum Village again. I was told After I interviewed Baatin, Elzhi mentioned my interview with Baatin on the Slum Village song, "Reunion" (from the "Detroit Deli" LP). Black Milk actually produced the fascinating song "Reunion". Just as Baatin had issues with Slum Village & Barak Records, Black Milk felt similar problems. Fueled by his need to make and release music, Black Milk left Barak records to pursue a solo career.

After an arduous period of time, Black Milk found peace and success within his music. As a solo producer, he began to produce for many respected artists. He discovered that he was able to succeed without the help of his long time partner Young RJ. Black Milk contributed beats for Canibus, Pharoahe Monch, and Lloyd Banks. Black Milk eventually released "Sound Of The City" LP and the "Broken Wax" EP. The absence of J Dilla left the hip-hop world yearning for Detroit's signature sound. Dilla's influence nourished Black Milk's inspiration.

Black Milk's signature sound is growing strong. Released on Fat Beats Records in 2007, the "Popular Demand" LP by Black Milk showcases the potency of Detroit's hip-hop evolution. Entirely produced by Black Milk, the album is soulful, diverse, hardcore, unique, and emotional. "Popular Demand" has already begun the healing within Detroit's hip-hop scene. Baatin actually reunites with Slum Village (Elzhi & T3) on the magnificent song "Action". Other guests include Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Ty, Fat Ray, Que Diesel, and One Be Lo.

Black Milk creates music that nourishes hip-hop culture and his Detroit brethren. He is currently working on songs for Pharoahe Monch, Lamont Bishop, Sean Price, and many others. Although he will never take J Dilla's place, Black Milk will continue to be inspired and educated by Dilla's legacy. He is not trying to duplicate J Dilla's classic style. Black Milk is trying to help the Detroit hip-hop sound evolve. Detroit has encountered pain and extreme loss, but continues to grow. The music of Black Milk is healing Detroit and evolving the city's signature hip-hop sound.

MVRemix: Actually, there is an odd connection that I have with you. First, I interviewed your former partner, Young RJ (from BR Gunna). Second, in the song you produced for Slum Village called 'Reunion' (from their 'Detroit Deli' album), Elzhi rhymes about Baatin's comments in an interview I conducted. I was the person who interviewed Baatin. Elzhi is talking about my interview.

Black Milk: Oh, yeah! I remember! I remember!

MVRemix: After Baatin left, I interviewed him and published exactly what he said. Then, the next thing I know, the interview is mentioned in a Slum Village song and even in The Source.

Black Milk: Yeah! That's what's up! It's all good, man!

MVRemix: As a producer, you brought Baatin to perform on a track with Slum Village again (Elzhi & T3), after many years of so-called bad blood.

Black Milk: Oh yeah. On 'Sound Of The City' and the new album.

MVRemix: Tell us about the 'Popular Demand' LP about to be released on Fat Beats Records.

Black Milk: The album, 'Popular Demand' is dropping in March. It's just the new album coming out on Fat Beats Records. I'm feeling good about it. Basically, it's a continuation of 'Sound Of The City' and another EP on wax that got put out in November called 'Broken Wax'. The music is on the same vibe. It's soul music, but still upbeat and hard-hitting. It's up-tempo and innovative. I have a few songs that are rock influenced, jazz influenced, and electronic influenced. It's music to enjoy yourself to. Yeah, man. It's dope hip-hop music.

MVRemix: How is 'Popular Demand' different from your last album?

Black Milk: The 'Sound Of The City' is a little old school.

MVRemix: I would like to pay my respects and say, 'Rest In Peace' to J Dilla. Recently passed away, J Dilla was a legendary Detroit hip-hop producer/emcee who will be missed. He left behind a legacy and no one can truly replace him. Since you are from the same scene and worked with him, many critics are comparing you to him. Do you feel that people are putting pressure on you to fill his shoes or carry his torch?

Black Milk: I don't think it's really pressure. I hear it from some people sometimes. I don't like to get into it when people ask me if I am the next one. I don't like hearing that type of stuff. Dilla created the sound. He created a sound for hip-hop. Those are some big shoes to fill. Nobody will ever fill those shoes. One thing that I want to do that Dilla did, was put out good music over the years. That's the only thing I want to do that Dilla did. I don't want to do his sound or style. I just want to put out good music all the time like he did. You never really heard a wack J Dilla record. I take it as a compliment when somebody could even think that I could ever get close to his level or put out dope music like he did. I am just one of the Detroit artists. You got people like Karriem Riggins and Wajeed. Lacks is doing his thing. I don't know why some people look at me. Maybe it's because I'm rapping too. I don't know.

>> continued...

Related content:
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  • Slum Village - Dirty District review by Todd E. Jones
  • Slum Village - Trinity review by Todd E. Jones
  • Elzhi (Slum Village) 2002 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Baatin (Slum Village) 2003 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Elzhi (Slum Village) 2004 Interview by Hugo Lunny
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  • Slum Village - Detroit Deli review by Brainiac
  • Slum Village - Detroit Deli review by NewJeruPoet
  • Dwele 2003 Interview by Todd E. Jones
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  • Black Milk 2007 Interview by Todd E. Jones

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    "I just want to put out good music all the time like he did. You never really heard a wack J Dilla record. I take it as a compliment when..."