Black Milk – How Dare You EP (EP of the Year)

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I’ve already raved up and down about Black Milk‘s splendid full-length release (the ever more aptly-titled) Album of the Year, and I’ll try to limit the hype a bit, however, I have a lil’ more to dish about. It turns out, unlike many artists, Black had very few remnants on the cutting room floor when AotY was finished. In fact, he only had, according to a few different sources, a little under nine minutes of false starts and aborted beats/ideas.
On 2008’s totally boss Tronic, Black found a home for these undeveloped ideas by constructing interludes after a few tracks. Granted, it takes a bit of the life out of one of the most exciting hip-hop records of the last five years, but when you’re building your reputation on the back of your beats, showing off a few more ideas might not be a bad call. This time around, for Album of the Year, Milk trimmed the fat and now he’s serving it up, like scraps to a pack of dogs, on this EP.
Only “How Dare You?,” a track recorded after AotY was completed and posted to Black Milk’s Bandcamp page almost immediately, is a fully realized cut. “How Dare You?” is almost all about it’s stuttering beat. The syth line, aping a tired flute, is paper thin, a little wisp winding through the song, giving little hints to dramatic rises in Black’s verses. The beat is pretty basic but the sound is extra-crunchy, a bit lo-fi, a bit trunk-rattling. And Milk’s verse is quick and to the point. It’s a solid idea that Milk offered for free, and that’s about how much you’d want to spend on it.
This EP should actually be dedicated to the Album of the Year gem that was not to be: “Don Cornelius.”

“‘Don Cornelius” was supposed to be on the album, but I didn’t know the Lee Fields sample [I used] was from two years ago. When I heard the sample I was like “oh, this shit is sweet,” thinking it was some old 70’s shit. My mans called me up after I sent it to him and he was like you can’t do that.

There’s a song on the album called “Black & Brown” with me and Danny Brown and it is just two verses. That song was supposed to change up into “Don Cornelius” with my verse and another verse from Danny. He came up to the studio and spit on four tracks. Once I found out we couldn’t use it, I was just like fuck it.

“Don Cornelius” is amazing as a 2:18 sketch, just imagine how astounding this would have been with another verse from Danny Brown as an epilogue to Album of the Year-standout “Black & Brown.”
The remaining four cuts all clock in under two minutes and are illustrative the quality of the beats and cuts Milk kept. “Mo Power” is tense with a bubbling, tuba-like bass line, xylophone trills, hyperactive percussion and some scraps of a verse that could have yielded a solid boast. “Dreams” is a slick track built on a piano part that may have been cribbed from an Oscar-bait score with a squishy bass synth line and a stuttering snare and high-hat-heavy beat. Milk gets bigger than King Kong on “In the A.M.,” with giant bass drum thumps, snare sucker punches and late-night horror film key stabs. The EP closes with “Set Go” which is a Milk soul loop that sounds like it pulled a Madlib (the thing is frantically chopped but still works).
If you’re a fan of good production or Black Milk, this will be fun for a few listens, if not, even it’s free-ness really shouldn’t be a lure. Though hearing “Don Cornelius” and dreaming of what might have been is a worthwhile enough activity.

You can cop the thang for free right here.

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