milo’s alpha and omega

Oct. 5, 2018, 5:00 a.m.

In light of the announcement that milo is over following the release of his most recent (and therefore ultimate) album “budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies,” the time is ripe for a preliminary retrospective upon his star-studded career. The Milwaukee-born, Biddeford-based rapper, the eternal android truly taking flight from Kenosha, leaves little to be desired in his latest mix. Any one of milo’s tapes offers a treasure trove of allusions, refrains and echoes, (nostrum) groceries for the well-whet appetite. Yet for our purposes the rapper’s first (“things that happen at day / things that happen at night”) and last albums, his Alpha and Omega, gesture but briefly to the quality of his muse.

The record wastes no time in establishing its artistic excellence. From the get-go, “tiptoe” goes down smoother than almond milk, and promises that what follows will consolidate itself as “idealism’s eyesore, three letters on the high score.” “romulan ale” launches milo into the classical pantheon of wordplay crisply and with ease, in under two minutes to boot. Where the poet had deemed Hegel “incomprehensible” in “things that happen at day,” in “budding ornithologists” he moves past German idealism, into new philosophical territory, “setting it off / by disagreeing with Lacan” on the preeminence of the word, and emphasizing the primacy of the sensual body. A materialist through and through, his lines handily attain the gold standard of real, dialectical, world-based lyricism. Of kind with Orpheus (“To Musaeus,” to be exact), no question about it. Yet milo’s verses are not captive to antiquity, but engaged with the modern greats. The artist’s deft refrain of Nas (“Never put me in your box if your shit eats tapes”) for example, guarantees that only a fool would risk jamming this mix into a cassette-gobbling blaster.

“failing the stress test” is the album’s most hauntingly topical track. As America reels from the horrid permutations of its patriarchal legacy, replete with noxious neo-Roman republican fantasy characteristics, milo swerves chillingly round the ‘beheadings’ inherent to our state, all the while faithfully reminding the “dust” we are not to “forget to be the breath.” (A word of council: It does matter which way the missiles are aiming, today no less than ever.) Few artists manage to speak so clearly yet obliquely to the contemporary juncture. The pointed suggestion from “things that happen at day” that white supremacy is an inevitable outcome for anyone “who went all throughout high school without reading Zora Neale Hurston” attests to milo’s grounding in the literary lozenges offering hope for any with eyes set upon God. By “ornithologists,” in milo’s telling, “Zorr@ knelt, hurtin’”: blunt testimony to the perennial wounds burdening the heart and soul of the States, the world’s most imperious settler-colonial project. These lyrics occasion gasps of sorrow and lamentation, and they stand among the most powerful musical indicators of the sordid state of the Union.

milo stands a far cry from a sophistic aestheticism. “Fascism is fashion,” proclaims our bard, pointedly referring to Benjamin’s characterization (in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”) of the aestheticization of politics as it decays into the cesspit of reaction. And yet milo is certainly no apolitical rapper. While his “weapons list betrays expensive taste,” and a refined sensibility precludes crass dogmatism in his work, this “doubting Maoist” calls out throughout to some of the greatest ambassadors of people’s politics of emancipation, from Malcolm X to Neruda, from Bartleby the Scrivener to Janie Crawford and beyond. For those who know, with Euclid, that “the law is an anagram of wealth,” it’s all aboard upon the Ruby Yacht, the “most loyal brigade … with no off days.”

Doubtless, milo has “etch[ed his] name into the philosophers’ stone,” from first to last. “Self-born, getting closer to form,” there is no doubt that however the eidos unfolds from this artist, it will stand timeless. Whatever the future (near and far) may hold for this unrivaled mythos manufacturer, prospects for the Ruby Yacht as it sails along the seas, into the mist, are rosy red. And lest the scholars, “so heavy handed” speculate imprudently before their time, a word deferred to the rapper himself on the essence to conclude, in the missive left with the record’s release:

i cannot tell you all about it as that would commodify, as that would turn what is decidedly non fractal into SEO keyword. i refuse. so what you hear in this album is simply a pamphlet. little aphorisms and landmines to burst your mind out of the mundane a moment, broken myth and hopes and torments, riddled out of myself as they came …


Contact Malachi Dray at malachid ‘at’


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