Milo
Who Told You To Think?​?​!​!​?​!​?​!​?​!


4.5
superb

Review

by jack CONTRIBUTOR (64 Reviews)
August 11th, 2017 | 251 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: dodging the gatekeeper

Our transmissions begin the minute we leave home.

Dissent. Hack through the tangle of green tendrils until your own path is cleared. Write thousands of non-sequiturs until they, on their lonesome, form a cohesive argument or mission statement. Repeat yourself and/or contradict yourself where you see fit. Switch to autopilot and throw a party in the cockpit. Trim the vines growing over your garden fence until you can see the sun again, and while you’re at it, make sure your outline remains iridescent. Flick different turns of phrase over your knuckles like they're coins. Repeat yourself. Never contradict yourself.

---

Milo’s arch is an interesting one. His first outingI Wish My Brother Rob Was Here proliferated quickly, and yet the tape sounded reluctant to accept the accolades that were foisted upon it. The record introduced us to a style that was individualistic yet erratic. Milo, here and always, neglects to put on a mask, but remains elusive by expounding on every facet of his personality over an inner circle of reserved, introspective beats. There was Just Us – a precursor and a eulogy, imbued with startling sincerity (“…When your Facebook becomes your memorial page…”) and production that evolved from playful to poignant as Milo did the same. Minutes later came Super Happy Sunshine Fun Club – evident in its intentions and featherbrained in its social commentary.

With the Day/Night EPs and A Toothpaste Suburb, Milo demonstrated that he had no intention of switching it up (i.e. he would continue to switch it up, constantly). The instrumentals on either release danced around behind a thin screen of mist, and the man at the helm continued to assail his subject matter from diagonals – not so much keeping his rhymes on a leash as he was letting them go where they pleased. Milo Takes Baths and Cavalcade were both detours that painted equally stunning portraits: the production undulated infinitely – especially on Cavalcade – and the myriad philosophical references seemed to look towards the future somewhere, eyes piqued and honing in on a tangible vision. He got tantalizingly close in So The Flies Don’t Come, but the message was hidden, communicated through a daydream.

---

“I would never come before you in the position of a complainant, for doing something that I must do.”

So context is important because it feels like Milo’s latest, who told you to think??!!?!?!?!, is a culmination of both ideology and style. The first thing and, perhaps not coincidentally, the most important thing that one notices about this record is that it radiates confidence. It evokes many a thing, this confidence: a sense of urgency, a man attaining an oft-coveted position of power. Though mainly (and this won’t surprise a single soul that follows Milo on Twitter) the confidence is so obviously the product of an artist obsessed with the concept of agency. It’s not just an obsession, either, as Poet (Black Bean) makes abundantly and immediately clear straight out the gate. No, the record’s opener is galvanized and bristling, positing this autonomy as an imperative not just for the individual, but for an entire school of thought. I think it’s a fascinating angle, and despite being disconnected from the cause by both ocean and circumstance, I can feel the record’s precedent set like concrete in real time. By lyric, by delivery, by basement-beats and an urgent need for raised voices – this record parades its vitality, as it revolves slowly around the axis of self-determinism.

And this isn’t just a case of speculation on my part. Though still curtained by the abstract, the conceptual, this sovereignty is very axiomatically the record’s thesis statement. Clarity is afforded, in no small part, to Milo’s delivery. It’s a technique simple yet irrefutably effective – repeating lines, I mean, and it’s used here to inform the listener of an idea’s significance. “Ya’ll was imitating God tryna mimic our sounds”, he spits in Landscaping, as an affirmation of his culture’s worth. Then: “Godspeed you, black emperor”, he reiterates in Call + Form (or is it “Godspeed you! Black emperor”?), to bring the point home. To consolidate the message, and in direct opposition to pre-emptive critics, who told you to think??!!?!?!?! uses the negative space more effectively than any other project by the Hellfyre alumnus. In Call + Form’s roll-call for real MCs, the rapper pointedly remarks: “Your voice is needed”, then he lets the request hang in the air, beckoning contemplation, prompting action. It’s important to let future custodians think and evaluate for themselves.

In the same vein, it’s important that this record isn’t necessarily an accessible one. It rises out of the ashes with a sample of James Baldwin – a social analyst and major influence – who portends the critic and sets the record’s parameters. This introduction proves that the album has travelled from Milo’s (a mystifying auteur here, more than ever) world to ours – riding in on a ruby yacht and taking up residency at Scallops Hotel. His world is full of oxymorons: abstractions that provide clarity, controlled aggression, beats that are both cozy and paranoid; all of which are endearing yet thought-provoking. And so it may take time, I think, for fringe-dwellers to break through to this record's center, being that it takes pride in being opaque and obscure -- because why do records like this exist, if not to be studied and scrutinised and delved into? “IDK”, Milo says flippantly; if you’re here for a cursory experience, he is “probably not the rapper for you”.

But us? the apostles, the students of Milo? We were here to see the spark become the flame, and it’s clear that this project is contingent on what came before it. IDK would feel at home on So The Flies Don’t Come, and Note to Mrs similarly harkens back to the nostalgic vibes of A Toothpaste Suburb. The record is cunning, streetwise, subversive -- as though it finds freedom by moving in the opposite direction to its forebears. With the realisation of this freedom, Milo manipulates his flow at will. He quite deliberately moves against the grain of the beat in Take Advantage of the Naysayer, and will interject at random intervals with crazed adlibs and/or vocal glitches. But it isn’t self-indulgent, nor is it pretentious (side note: fuck that word). This creative direction takes Milo to the next phase naturally, and it's the only logical next step; the goals have been set by the record's predecessors.

“who told you to think??!!?!?!?! is about boundaries and permissions”, reads Milo’s Bandcamp. While such appraisals are undeniably veracious, I don’t think it can be stressed enough that this is, more specifically, about reclaiming those boundaries by placing emphasis on that which makes the individual; revelations by way of independence. But for all its soul-searching, the record never spurns the places where it lays its head at the end of the day. It’s an album more likely to call friends ‘brothers’ than ‘acquaintances’ and it has exactly zero stand-out hooks. Its sound is cobbled together from dusty cassettes and beat-up Rhodes pianos, floating along a river of loungeroom jazz sensibilities with the certainty that it will find itself a home. Which is to say: who told you to think??!!?!?!?! does what it sets out to do -- but this time, the green horse for rap needs no jockey to get over the line.

Our transmissions conclude when we reach the end of the tunnel.



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user ratings (170)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
verdant
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i love wild things wildly / i love quiet things quietly

Ryus
August 11th 2017


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wasn't too impressed by his last effort but i'm a huge fan of toothpaste suburb

nice review ofc

Digging: King Krule - The OOZ

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

TL;DR



thanks ryus. i prefer ATS but i love both.

Piglet
August 11th 2017


7329 Comments


interesting review mate

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thank you. please listen to the album.

Piglet
August 11th 2017


7329 Comments


yeah nah your review convinced me to

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

:~) ty for readin

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


5412 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wonderful review dude, mindpos'ing for days. Might have to give this a listen after reading this/hearing that track yesterday :]

BlushfulHippocrene
August 11th 2017


1916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Who is this LandDiving??!!?!?!?!

Digging: Movements - Feel Something

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

who told you to meme??!!?!?!?!



aaron you are my favouritist

clavier
August 11th 2017


444 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wonderful review and album is so good

BlushfulHippocrene
August 11th 2017


1916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Immense review, Jack. An accomplishment. An apt and beautiful accompaniment to an incredible album. I appreciate the contextual focus here, this album is without a doubt a culmination of skills attained through past efforts. I've been thinking about the James Baldwin reference, and I think your interpretation of the album -- in relation to him -- as a means of subverting (or reclaiming?) boundaries is both fascinating and sound. I think Milo, with each release, is aligning himself more and more with issues of race and politics, and that feeds into the Baldwin references as well, as well as the notion of culture itself. Obviously, as you argue, this is his most focused (in terms of a message) album, so it's extremely fitting just how much you discuss background, and I very much enjoy how you manage to balance your critique with this sort of detailed analyses.

I'd pos this if I could. You know how I feel about your writing.

Chortles
August 11th 2017


20741 Comments


u a magic MF-wordsmith, pls teach me. love the review

Digging: DJ Rashad - Just A Taste

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the fact that you guys even read this huge hunk of text is heart-warming, but then you proceed to say these nice things and i go to bed a very happy boi. i love you all.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


15749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no idea how you spit so many words out so fast. my review was going to touch on the exact same topics this seems to though so there's no point now lol. cavalcade will still be my fave from this guy but this is certainly his best LP. ordered the vinyl yesterday after loving this so much too.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


19180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fuck this is gorgeous jack. reads so well even if a few words flew right over my head. you can really tell you are not just passionate about the music but the message itself and the amount of detail you go into about Milo's end goal is beautiful. much luv bb

jojocope555
August 11th 2017


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i can see this being a highlight in the underground wierd-shit era bandcamp rapper genre

pjorn
August 11th 2017


3879 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

jack is unstoppable, a pure force of violent momentum. whack writers are officially on burn notice.





mental pos

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


15749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"i can see this being a highlight in the underground wierd-shit era bandcamp rapper genre"



milo himself is a highlight honestly.



Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


19180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wisco reppin ayyy



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