Wisconsin rapper and producer Milo has a knack for the abstract. His Bandcamp bio reads “I convert and translate”, which is about as direct as he will ever be. Active since 2010, he has recently become one of alternative hip-hop’s most beloved acts, frequently collaborating with the likes of rappers such as Open Mike Eagle and Busdriver. His latest record, Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?! is a continuation of his mind boggling and crafty art-rap.
From a production standpoint, this may be one of Milo’s most accessible projects to date. The jazzy, boom-bap undertones make this release very easy to listen to. This is the first album from Milo that I have thoroughly enjoyed – this quickly, at least. 2015’s So the Flies Don’t Come was my introduction to Milo and it took quite a while to grow on me, though I always found the album extremely intriguing for its clever wordplay and imaginative production.
Who Told You To Think sees Milo being more nonsensical than descriptive. He makes it clear just how self-aware he is of his own ramblings, with lines like “it don’t feel therapeutic just blabbering about neutered truths”, on the aggressive “Landscaping”. His witty lyrics are equally guaranteed to make you scratch your head and raise your finger in sudden realization.
A lot of the tracks are brief in length but nonetheless, make for a smooth flowing record. “The Young Man Has A Point (Nurture)” is painfully short, but it boasts one my favorite one liners on the entire album – “my vocabulary pays my rent”. The following track, “Pablum//CELESKINGIII” suffers from the same limitations. While I do wish some of these songs were longer, it makes sense for someone like Milo, who’s lyrics take a lot of thinking to interpret, to make short records. He leaves a lot to feast on in such little spades of time.
Aside from the contemplative lyrics, there are plenty of other elements of the record that I really enjoy. The subtle addition of the electric guitar to “Magician (Surture)” is the perfect compliment to the song’s already upbeat and fuzzy vibe. The synthesizers on the Method Man inspired “Take Advantage of the Naysayer” sound as confused as Milo, yet in the most beautiful way possible. The sound of the drums throughout the album also stands out; they are consistently crisp and ‘head-nod’ inducing, especially on “IDK” and “Embroidering Machine”.
The more I listen to Milo, the more I love his ear for beats as much as his rapping skills. With that said, I believe his flair for penning such creative verses remains his best quality as an MC. These days, few other rappers have the ability to be so thought-provoking.