Monday, April 11, 2011

Black Milk at Third Man Records, 4/8/2011

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 10:22 AM

We've said it before and we'll say it again, 'cuz frankly, it just sounds nice in our ears: Nashville's hip-hop scene is alive and well. Very, very well. There was a hot second there — right when we showed up at Third Man to catch Detroit rapper/producer Black Milk — that it looked like it was gonna be an old-school Nashville hip-hop show. You know, like, back in the day when you could get to a show featuring a great underground artist and it'd be a complete crapshoot as to whether or not anybody else was going to be there. But then again, this is the new Nashville hip-hop scene, and we shouldn't have been worried. The room was comfortably full, and the crowd was all about some participation.

The thing about Black Milk is that he is a dude who knows how to collaborate — his productions and solo albums are always a who's who of the underground — and when we heard he was in town to work on a single with Jack White, we had this inkling that the results would include a band of unparalleled quality. We were absolutely correct. Hot damn and cold fire, those dudes could rip it up like few we've seen. The thing about live hip-hop when done correctly — and Friday night could be the dictionary definition of the phrase “done correctly” — is that it touches on all of the genres that make The Spin's heart go pitter-patter. It's heavy, it's funky, it's psychedelic, it's jazzy — hell, there was even an outbreak of Western swing-style shuffle at one point — and overall, it transcends the formalism that defines the genre.

Sadly, we didn't write down the band members' names. Early in the night, Black Milk told us to put our hands up, and — in a very un-Spin-like move — we actually did, and we actually kept them there. It was that kind of show: the kind of show where the audience is almost a member of the band and participation is mandatory. Compulsive is maybe a better way to describe the situation: The vibe was so good and the band was having so much fun on stage that even jaded assholes like ourselves felt the need to particpate, hoot and holler. We almost turned into puddles of ecstatic, gelatinous goo when Black Milk & Co. dropped “Give the Drummer Some” — and the drummer instead gave us the show of a lifetime. (Think “Neil Peart drum solo” crammed into two bars and a four-piece trap set. Fuckin' killer, dude.)

And while it might be trite to mention that "MC" is supposed to mean “move the crowd,” it's a maxim that bears repeating. It also bears repeating that Black Milk is in fact a real emcee who does in fact move the crowd. It was evident that he was feeding off the positive energy in the room and then sending it straight back into the audience. There's a level of give-and-take between artist and audience that elevates a good show to a great performance, and we will unequivocally state that Black Milk was on that motherfucking level in a big motherfucking way. We've seen some pretty remarkable shows over at Jack White's clubhouse, and this one ranked right up there. Good gawddamn, was it right up there.

(And since we're here, we'd like to put in a request with the folks at Third Man: Think you guys could maybe snag a date on The Dirtbombs' summer tour? We heard that you guys know a guy who knows those guys. K Thanx.)

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Black Milk at Third Man Records, 4/8/2011

Black Milk at Third Man Records, 4/8/2011

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