Black Milk hasn’t dropped an album in 2 years, so when he announced that a new one was coming, all seemed to be right in the world (although he’d told me and others that one was coming, last year). To continue to stretch of good music to drop this year, why not have a tour as well? I attended the album listening for No Poison, No Paradise, and it’s honestly in the tops for best albums to come out this year (but, I’ll save the extensive praise for the album review). How I found out about Black Milk initially came only after he was in Toronto for a tour, so I had to make sure that I did what I could to make sure I didn’t miss him in town this time around. Black’s use of instrumentation on Album of the Year would make it perfect for a live band to perform with (and I’m generally in favour of live bands altogether). Black’s production serves its purpose in delivering thunderous beats that can only be properly appreciated through big speakers and large venues, so I was very excited to see what he was able to bring to the table, because I’ve heard that he’s a great performer from others who have seen him.
The Virgin Mod Club is a smaller venue, and because of the fact that Black Milk isn’t a major artist that gets appreciation, it’s sad to see, but it’s better for me because I don’t have to deal with a large scrum of people to elbow out of my way. I’d got there early and met up with some friends; for a while, we were the only people there until, little by little, more people started showing up. The space didn’t fill up completely, but it wasn’t empty to the point where you could echo if you whispered. DJ Sober started the night off by spinning 90s, and early 2000s tracks that had people doing a little dance and getting down to the mixes and mash ups that were being provided. His mash up of Biggie’s Party & Bullshit (I could be wrong on that) with Clipse’s What Happened to That Boy was crazy! I literally had to walk from one side of the club to the other in sheer amazement.
After putting in some work, it was Quelle Chris who took the stage first. I wasn’t familiar with him at all, but as he was performing a couple of his songs, he was doing his thing and I was digging the vibe that he was bringing to the stage. Hailing from Detroit, he had that aggressive flow but wasn’t so harsh – the beats he rapped over were pretty smooth.
He has a feature verse on Black’s new album (which is one of the more popular tracks on it, so that’s a plus), and it’s clear to see why he chose him to be one of the 2 rap features on it. After the show, I got to talk to him a little bit, show love, and I even bought his previous 2 albums to get myself more familiarized with his music; his new album Ghost at the Finish Line drops at the end of October (29), so I’ll definitely be on the lookout for that.
Black Milk was the headliner, and it was about that time for him to come out. The live band assembled first and they went into the introduction of Black & Brown (a song from the album of the same name), and the pulsing build up of the song prompted Black to walk out on the stage, take the mic, and proceed to get into the groove of things. It’s funny, because Black & Brown was the first song I ever heard of Black Milk’s, so it was full circle coming about in a way. After some technical difficulties with the microphone cutting in and out, Black assured that not even the loose cable would be able to stop the show from going on. Afterwards, he performed Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst which is right off the album, but came out a couple of months beforehand – it sounds amazing with a live band, but it was only the beginning for the rapper’s set.
At the listening party, there was a point when Black Milk was on Skype with the audience (which also didn’t turn out many people), and he was talking about the new album. He described it as being a combination of his last 2 albums, Tronic & Album of the Year. From there, it was only fitting that he performed songs from both projects, which he did: Keep Going, Deadly Medley, Round of Applause, Gospel Psychedelic Rock, and Losing Out were a good majority of the songs that had the crowd rocking for the duration. The chemistry between each band member (keyboardist, bass, DJ, and drummer) was electric and there was often improve with Black freestyling over them. It was great to see and it just showed how much he was a showman on stage, which is an important asset to have if you’re an artist – the ability to improvise and enhance the experience for the audience.
Performing the songs with a live band was enough, but he upped the tempo and kept the air buzzing from start to finish. From the album, he performed: Dismal, Money Bags, Interpret Sabotage, Perfected on Puritan Ave, as well as the aforementioned Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst. The solos from each band member (appropriately named, Nat Turner) were electric and were all talented in their own way (even the bass guitarist got on the keyboards at one point). Although the size of the crowd didn’t reflect just how great the show was, there wasn’t 1 disappointed person in the audience, and the cheers for Black Milk went on almost 10 minutes after he’d left, but when he re-emerged, it was at the booth at the back of the venue where he took time out to take pictures with fans and sign albums (he had his whole collection for sale, including the new one). I had a chance to get one signed along with a photo, and the down to Earth humility that he showed, gave me a lot of respect for him as a person, more than just an artist.
I can honestly say that it was one of, the best individual shows I’ve witnessed, and for those who missed out on it, they missed a true show – it was definitely one that will be memorable for years to come. But, until the next show
That’s My Word & It STiXX