Last Friday, a group of 50 or so students gathered in the Underground (UG) to listen to a rap concert featuring the artist Milo. It was hard to tell which of the concert-attendees showed up because they were actual fans of the artist, and which were just there expecting to hear a fun hip-hop performance. No matter the attendee, Milo’s performance left everyone a little confused and bewildered, contemplating the show they had just heard.
Milo, a rapper from Wisconsin, is known for his focus on social issues and emotionally-charged songs that constitute A Toothpaste Suburb and So the Flies Don’t Come, released in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Milo gives voice to his inner thoughts and deliberations by writing songs that contemplate his past, the issues he sees occurring in the world and other events. When rapping about these things, he adds his own quirky charm by inserting references to seemingly trivial things that one never expected to hear in a rap song, such as the mentioning of Treva Throneberry Hagakure and Darrien Hunt.
In addition to the powerful meaning behind his songs, the main reason Milo is such an impressive rapper is the structure by which he writes and delivers his lyrics.
Despite his passionate songs, he maintains a blank and almost emotionless demeanor and voice throughout most of his music. This, combined with the tone-down background music, results in a more lyrical focus on the way he structures the words of his songs. These words, many of which are sophisticated and elaborate, are arranged in such a way that when Milo raps, he is not only rhyming words, but the syllables of these words, resulting in a distinct and remarkable style.
However, when he stepped onto the stage of the UG (after his car broke down in the middle of rural Ohio), listeners witnessed an experience foreign to his usual technique. After dropping a freestyle right at the beginning, Milo proceeded to remove his black sweatshirt and sweatpants to reveal an all-white outfit. The rest of the performance included him rapping his songs, most of which had no distinct beginning or end. One of the only indicators that he switched songs, was when the beat behind him changed significantly. As such, the beat behind him was the most defining feature of the concert. The background sounds were more prominent than they are on his albums, and they were at the forefront of his music, making it difficult for audience members to focus on his lyrics and rapping style, the most brilliant aspect of Milo’s music. At times, the background music would grow so loud, and become overtaken by sonically unpleasant noises that bordered on painful to listen to.
To fans of Milo’s music, the show was extremely bizarre and different from anything they’d heard on his past albums, and to novices who were just there to watch a good show, they were subjected to a performance that was disparate from anything they were expecting.