By Matt Hume, September 6 2017 —
Over the course of his career, Rory Ferreira has called himself many names. Some know him as Scallops Hotel, but most recognize him simply as Milo. Since his twin EPs in 2013, Things That Happen at Day and Things That Happen at Night, Milo has honed a style of abstract hip-hop riddled with poetic devices, literary references and experimental production.
His latest full length album, who told you to think??!!?!?!?!, is a confident expression of that abstract style perfected. “Poet (Black Bean)” opens the album with a sample from author and social critic James Baldwin discussing artists and poets, setting the tone and theme for the songs to come.
In a fashion familiar to listeners of his previous albums, Milo often discusses his views on individual purpose, the state of hip-hop and the modern social climate, with references to everything from Bakowski to Nabokov to Nimrod. The style of the whole album can be summarized by a line in “Call + Form (Picture)” — “Sincerely, another blasphemous philosopher.”
While the philosophical ramblings and clever poetry keep you invested from start to finish, the musical production enhances every word. Each track is distinct, but follows a cohesive pattern that feels like a tug-of-war between old and the new sounds. Piano, bass, full-kit drums and brass provide smooth beats blended masterfully with glitchy digital sound-bites. The result is a jazzy basement hip-hop soundscape that seems to keep a malfunctioning digital world at bay.
Milo delivers complex and intimate thoughts which require a conscious effort to understand. For this reason, the contents of who told you to think??!!?!?!?! are not immediately accessible to the listener — and that’s the point.
The eloquent clarity of each sentence makes the inaccessibility deliberate and Milo is fully aware that not everyone will attempt to dissect his art. As he admits on the track “IDK,” “I may not be the rapper for you.”
But if you’re willing to take the dive, you will feel compelled to pay attention to every metaphor and repetition, and each track will be a poem to contemplate. In fact, who told you to think??!!?!?!?! forces you to do exactly that.