“Opportunity’s knock was really just the pizza man.” Any meaning that lies behind this witty yet furtive verse can’t truly be understood by the listener, but Wisconson MC Milo does not seem to mind the alienation his art may produce. In fact, the only tangible fact taken from “Milo Takes Baths” is that he loves rapping, and does it well.
The 20-year-old philosophy major dropped his first solo effort, “I Wish My Brother Rob Were Here,” a mere three months ago. It was dedicated to his friend Rob Espinoza, whose sudden death inspired the mixtape. On that, he mourned the loss by exploring his own life and fleshing out a character that was excessively complacent about his ultra-nerdy, philosophical and vegan ways over clicking, glitchy soundscapes from guys like Schlomo and Flying Lotus. Even the song titles displayed this fluent oddness; one of these titles, “Budding ornithologist are weary of tired analogies,” sounds like a leftover Shabazz Palaces track.
While his flow left a bit to be desired on certain tracks, the shining gem of Milo’s poetry laid in the sheer force of the personally relevant references packed into them. No second was spared a mention of a long deceased philosopher, his favorite frozen foods or online RPG forums, which ironically contrasted his disdain of fellow rappers for being “too topical.” It makes sense though, as this outpour of knowledge is from actual experience and interests rather than an affectation of stereotypes.
So it comes as no surprise that the Milo-shaped geyser continues to spout on “Baths,” and with even greater force. He’s not tethered by emotional baggage other than his own ticks and preferences, and a borrowed assortment of beats from LA producer Baths lends a confidence boost to how he tackles the abundance of subject matter.
On “Lester Freamon…,” the track which spawned the “pizza man” line, cool acoustic and an airy synth intermingle while he continues his esoteric narrative: “You can be Donnie Darko, I can be Donnie Brasco/I’ll always be poor, that way I keep the taxes low.” And on “Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria…” the beat heaves and stumbles over itself like a nervous suitor as he becomes absurdly forward with a lady… over Skype: “You wouldn’t show me nudes/Now I got the homie blues/I know I’m just your e-boyfriend, but surely we can pretend that I’m over there undressing you.”
Milo’s way of observing the world or describing himself allows him to completely maintain the nerdcore lane and stand out amongst its few commuters. He has a very regulated, monotone voice that uncovers some pretty funny, clever, and at times self-embarrassing rhymes that feel genuine enough to warrant multiple listens and exposure to people more prone to harder forms of rap.
That’s not to say that his song structure could stand as it is, however. It probably begs the question that he pens these songs in a laborious stream-of-consciousness, as he simply puts down whatever comes from his head before hopping into the booth. But the hooks don’t come out fully processed from that forge, and Milo ends up repeating the same line in that space before fully pausing as the instrumental glitches on.
“Atlas Flushed…” was a more egregious example: “When I meet the man up top, I will bargain for nothing/And I will accept my lot among those who are suffering.” He has every right to speak and believe those words, as it is his song, yet producing such attention-grabbing thoughts without a continuing development in the stanza leaves the track feeling like a bunch of separate verses pasted together.
This occurs on probably half of the entire work, but with the amount of information flying into the ears, there may be some clear connections between chorus and stanze being lost in translation. Nonetheless, “Milo Takes Baths” is a really good EP, with a even better name, that offers a passively eccentric rapper carving out his own work in the crunchy-smooth sounds from Baths for the world to hopefully gawk and nod at.