often hard for young artists to break away from comparisons to the artists
that inspired them, as flattering as they may be. In light of his early
work with Slum Village, and being from the talented yet relatively untapped
city of Detroit, Black Milk has been striving to carry the torch that
J Dilla lit, without riding any coattails. Sure hes being heralded
as the next big Hip-Hop act to emerge from the Motor City, but these
days hes just happy to finally have the name Black Milk speak for
he couldnt be happier with the response hes received so far for
his solo album Popular Demand, hes also feeling blessed about
the results of his recent European tours. With plans to produce albums
from Sean Price, Guilty Simpson and Fat Ray, as well as the official
Caltroit mixtape with Bishop Lamont set to drop in December, 2008 is looking
to be a big year for the 24-year-old. Driving the I-95 in Detroit on
a Friday night is where AllHipHop.com caught up with him, and heres
how the conversation went.
AllHipHop.com: You were overseas
touring in October. Tell me about the experience you had performing
and getting to see another part of the world. Black Milk: That was my second
time going over to Europe this year, and it was way better than the
first time. The first time it was live, but this second time was even
crazier, because every show was sold out, or damn near sold out. Every
show the club was filled up. Me, Guilty [Simpson], and Sean Price all
did our thing, every set was vibing and people was just enjoying it.
I hit up a few spots I didnt get to hit up, finally hit up Paris
and couple other spots. Paris and Amsterdam was two of the livest shows
out of all, but it was crazy.
AllHipHop.com: I feel like
growing up listening to Detroit radio, and they put me on to a lot of
artists but really never gave us the exclusive Detroit stuff. They definitely
werent first place I never heard Eminem or Slum Village. I havent
been at home for few years, but is it still the same thing?
Black Milk: Yeah its basically
still the same man. Detroit got a lot of talented artists, from Hip-Hop to R&B singers and all of that. They might show you a little
love every once in a while, spin a record or put you in the mix show.
But other than that, not rotation. You not gonna get none of that, just
what you see on 106 and Park or MTV, what you hear on the radio from
big artists. Its kind of shocking, because theres a good amount
of artists in Detroit doing quality music, so you would think theyd
play some of that stuff or at least fit it in with the other artists
in rotation. But its still the same basically. To tell you truth,
they showed me a little love through the connections I had with the
radio at 98 WJLB, they were playing Sound The Alarm for a while.
Most of the time in the mix show, but they was still playing it, so
I couldnt be mad, you know what Im saying? (Laughs) AllHipHop.com: Its a shame
they dont do more.
Black Milk: Especially after
you got other cities that do it. When you see down south, how they do
it in Atlanta and other cities, they got their movement. Youd think
that another city would do that for their artists, when youve got
quality artists. Its enough of us out here. But I dont know man,
its a different thing up here. Its up top.
AllHipHop.com: Its been
nearly two years since the passing of J Dilla. Is the Detroit community
finally coming to terms with no longer having the legend around?
Black Milk: Its been a minute,
so I guess people is starting to get closure with it. Aint nobody
forgot about him or Proof, if you go to the Hip Hop spots were still
spinning Dilla records and Proof records all night. So we aint forgot,
but were kind of coming to closure. Aint too much mourning like
around the time when it happened. Were always going to be repping
them two dudes.
AllHipHop.com: For those that
dont know, how much of an influence was his music as far as coming
into your own as a producer?
Black Milk: Dilla had a bigger
influence on my music than any artist in music history. Him and Prince,
the two dudes I look up to a lot. He made me want to start doing beats
basically, when I heard Slum Village. Before I even met those dudes,
I was listening to those dudes through my boys and cousins, they was
into Slum like that and put me on. And I realized it was different than
what you usually hear in Hip Hop, and I just grew attached to it. So
he influenced my style hella big. Even though Im coming into my own
sound, youll still hear that Detroit bounce. Im not the only artist
or producer he influenced, but yeah youll hear that a little bit
in my music.
AllHipHop.com: You said before
that you feel like youre starting your career all over again now,
trying to make a name for Black Milk the solo artist and producer. You
feel like its working now?
Black Milk: Yeah man I do.
People are starting to recognize me for what I do, and separate me from
the whole Slum Village thing, Dilla thing, B.R. Gunna thing, and look
at me as Black Milk. So I feel good, I feel like Im doing what Im
doing and accomplishing what I need to. But I still aint met my goals,
Im still not all the way. Its working out good for me now though.
Like when you can go overseas and rock shows by yourself to 500 people
and up, that means you doing something. AllHipHop.com: Youve got
to be happy with the consensus that Popular Demand was one of
the better projects to come out this year. Did you really expect that
type of response from the project, or were you prepared for the worst?
Black Milk: I kind of expected
people to enjoy the music. Ive been producing for a minute now, and
most of the stuff weve been putting out people like it and take to
it. They cop it, whether it was stuff for Slum or B.R. Gunna, people got
it and we never really got no bad feedback. So I didnt really have
any worries about the album. The only worry I had was when the album
got pushed back a few times. To me, it was old because it got pushed
back like 6 months from the original date. So Im like music changes
so much, especially with me, cause Im changing my style up or come
up with something new almost damn near every few week. So I was hoping
the album wouldnt sound dated when it came out, but people still
took to it and I got good feedback from the record so it was dope.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel
about the way Fat Beats Records is working as a label for artists like yourself?
Black Milk: When I signed to
Fat Beats, I kinda knew what it was. I knew they was going to do what
I needed them to do on an underground level. I knew I was going to have
to put in a lot of footwork myself and be on the grind myself, because
I knew they was only going to do so much. But like I said, it did good
man. We shot a real dope video for the first single Sound The Alarm,
and when we did that and put it on YouTube, we got so many calls from
people. MTV and even BET hollered at us. MTV hollered first like Yo,
we want the video. It wasnt like the real MTV, but like MTV Jams
or one of the lower ones But it was still dope to be on MTVs radar.
So the only thing we had to do was shoot a clean version of the video,
and that was where the dilemma came. The guy that shot the video did
it all on green screen, so it was hard for him to go back and take the
bullet scene out, or any gun gestures out. It was hard for him to go
back and re-edit all that, because he was done with it. But now we know
AllHipHop.com: Lets talk
about the Caltroit mixtape you did with Bishop Lamont. That must
have increased your fanbase substantially.
Black Milk: Yeah, I was reading
a couple message boards on sites where the song was up, and people was
like Whos the Black Milk cat? They knew Bishop, but I was new
to them and they was saying I was dope on the verses or whatever. I
didnt see nothing negative, so its opened me up to a whole new
fan base and given me more exposure. Bishops on Aftermath, so that
in itself is going to have certain people checking for you that wouldnt
usually. Caltroit is still getting a lot of buzz, we did the internet
download thing. The CD should be dropping in December with none of the
talking over it, and the mix and mastering is going to be nothing like
the grimy version that was on the internet. The quality version sounds
way better than the one from the net. That was the plan from the beginning,
leak it out and give people a little taste of what it is. We got Cali
artist, Detroit artists, even some East Coast artists on there, its
just a real good project.
AllHipHop.com: How did that
even come together? It seems like its bridging a big distance between
you guys geographically.
Black Milk: I met Bishop at
the Slum Village video shoot for EZ Up in Cali. Matter of fact
I had my Sound of the City project out that I was pushing, and
he was one of the cats I gave the CD too. We talked for a minute and
exchanged contacts, and when I got back to the crib we stayed in contact.
Unfortunately when Proof passed, he came out to Detroit for the funeral.
Me and him kicked it a little bit and recorded a couple songs, and when
he went back my manager had the idea like Why dont you do a project
together on some Cali-Detroit shit? And we thought the idea was dope,
so there it was. I went out to Cali, recorded a few times out there,
we were sending tracks back and forth. That was how we got Caltroit.
AllHipHop.com: Its cool
when your manager can come up with a few ideas, remind you why youre
Black Milk: Right, right. Thats
my manger all day, he just be brainstorming. Matter of fact, hes
the one that came with the idea of the Guilty Simpson/Sean Price album
with me producing it. So that was another one of his ideas that I give
him credit for."Bad Man" Fat Ray ft. Guilty Simpson Produced by Black Milk
"Sound the Alarm" Black Milk ft. Guilty Simpson