Producer Black Milk is one of the most respected beat-makers in rap. The Detroit native has crafted beats for the likes of Slum Village, Skyzoo, Elzhi, GZA, Lloyd Banks, and Torae among others. Milk is also pretty nice on the mic himself and his skills are on full display on his recently released fifth solo album, No Poison No Paradise
No Poison No Paradise is easily one of the best rap albums of 2013. Milk crafted a piece of work where his music and lyrics are both on a higher level and come together seamlessly to make a beautiful marriage. The critically claimed project is produced entirely by Milk with one track going to Will Sessions. Black Milk is joined on the album by Dwele, Robert Glasper, Quelle Chris, Mel, Ab, Tone Trezure, and Black Thought of The Roots.
Black Milk spoke to Examiner.com about his new album, No Poison No Paradise, being accepted as a producer that raps, and performing on the No Poison No Paradise tour.
SS: Explain the title of the new album, No Poison No Paradise.
Black Milk: I wanted to play on words and have another way to say “good and evil” since the album is dealing with a lot of ups and downs. It’s like the yin and yang somewhat so No Poison No Paradise is what that represents. I wanted it to sound somewhat like a book also and for whatever reason that title sounded like it could have been a book title.
SS: How much of the character on the album is really Black Milk?
Black Milk: I’d say about 70% [laughs]. The stuff that I’m talking about is actual things I’ve seen and gone through or stuff that I’ve seen other people go through that I’m close to, whether it was people I grew up with in my old neighborhood or friends now. It’s a mixture of my own personal stories and other people’s stories. I used this character to tell all of those stories.
SS: The video for Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst is real dope. Who came up with the concept?
Black Milk: Thank you, thank you. The song was the concept. It was pretty much self-explanatory after I wrote the lyrics and did the song, that was pretty much the treatment right there. All we had to do is film it in a way where we matched the visuals to the actual song and vocals right. It was a pretty easy video to shoot because we already knew what we needed to shoot from what I was saying in the song. It came out actually better than what I expected, man. It came out dope.
SS: Has it been a struggle for you to be accepted as an emcee and not only a producer?
Black Milk: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a struggle. I think people are kind of used to it now because there are so many producer/emcees. There are so many artists that emcee and produce their own stuff so I think people don’t even think about it like that. I feel like that was more so early 2000’s/late 90’s when it was a big deal. I don’t think it’s much of a big deal now. It seems like there are more producer/emcees coming out with the newer era. It hasn’t really been a struggle. I have people that actually support my music. When you have fans that support your music it lets you know somebody out there wants to hear what you’re doing—so it’s cool.
SS: Are you still using the MPC or have you moved on to producing with software?
Black Milk: I dibbled and dabbled in the software stuff a little bit but I always find myself moving back to the MPC 3000. I made all of the beats for this album on the 3000.
SS: You’re in the middle of the No Poison No Paradise tour right now. What do you have in-store for fans that come to see you live?
Black Milk: A lot of live energy and great musicality. I go out with a band so we try to take the show into a lot directions, twists, turns, and genres of music. You’re going to hear a little bit of soul, rock, punk rock, funk, R&B, and definitely some Hip-Hop. I kind of try to mix it up and have a lot of peaks and valleys of the show and put a lot of different energy and vibes out there in the venue. You can expect a mixture and one of the best Hip-Hop shows now! Put it like that, to keep it simple and plain. Me and the guys that I’m on stage with put a lot of time and energy into what we do and people seem like they enjoy what we do.
SS: What do you hope to accomplish with No Poison No Paradise?
Black Milk: I guess for people to see another side of my artistry. This album has somewhat of a different vibe and aesthetic that my previous projects. I hope for people to hear the album and enjoy what they’re hearing. If this is the first time you’re hearing of me hopefully it will spark you to want to go back and check my back catalog.
Purchase: Black Milk – No Poison No Paradise
See Black Milk live on the No Poison No Paradise tour
- Oct. 18 - St. Louis, MO @ Blank Space
- Oct. 19 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
- Oct. 20 - Iowa City, IA @ Gabe's
- Oct. 21 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
- Oct. 22 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
- Oct. 23 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
- Oct. 24 - Washington, DC @ Liv