Black Milk Breaks Down “Album Of The Year” Track By Track |@black_milk

I saw this article/interview at, and figured I’d share:

One of Detroit’s main torchbearers, Black Milk, is now on his fourth solo disc Album Of The Year, after countless other collaboration projects. Constantly building on his own sound, Album Of The Year is his most musically produced album yet, infusing more of a live instrumentation element. Recently, The Loop Detroit sat down with Black Milk while in the studio and he broke down the in’s and out’s of the album.

“I named that joint that because I couldn’t think of anything to title it. Just kept playing on the title. I felt like with the lyrics I was saying, I wrapped up what the album was going to be about before they even listen to the entire album. It was just an opening track letting cats know what they were about to get into with me just speaking on a few different subjects. Not giving too many details away with certain episodes of that year. It was like a preview of what the movie is about to be. I wanted to come in with a bang and a lot of energy. That’s another track I brought the live element in with the horns. I brought Melanie Rutherford in to ad-lib me throughout the track. Just another dope intro. Cats be telling me ‘You make some of the best intros’.”

Welcome (Gotta Go):
“I lucked up and found that sample when me and a lot of other Detroit artists went down to South By Southwest. At the venue we performed at for the Detroit showcase, there was a moog store directly across the street. I went over there and they had all these crazy electronic instruments. When I walked in the door, they were playing this crazy moog CD. I was like “What the fuck is that?”. I asked the dude behind the counter and he said it was some random moog sample CD. He asked if I wanted it so he gave me the CD. So on the ride back home, I was listening to this CD and I found that sample. I was like ‘Why am I lucky enough to have this CD with this sample?’ I was surprised there wasn’t a Dilla beat with this sample already because he had every moog sample. I called House Shoes right when I heard it was like ‘Listen to this shit!’. I just added a kick and clap to it. Everything you hear on it is sample.”

Keep Going:
“That was the first joint we did on some live shit. I did the track at the crib. It was a regular beat with a regular 1/2 drum pattern with some rock stabs on it and I played some synth keys on top of it. Brought it to the studio. Daru flew into town. He was here for a few days so we got into the studio. I had him drumming on top of beats and that was the first track he played on top of. It went from just a regular beat with a whole other monster when Daru played on that shit. Thats when I knew, OK, we are making some other shit! This is what I want this album to sound like!”

Oh Girl (featuring AB):
“That was a record I have had for a minute, the sample. I got this crazy vinyl in Toronto that I went back to and chopped it up. Made a basic drum beat to it. Daru started playing some rhythms on it. I hit record on Pro Tools and let him play for about 5-6 minutes. This is going to become the girl track. It had a laid back vibe to it even though it had drums going everywhere. It had a melodic vibe to it. I’m going to get on some female shit on this track.”

Deadly Medley (featuring Royce Da 5’9″ & Elzhi):
“I knew I wanted to have Royce and Elzhi on the same song. I wanted to have it under my control, on my terms this time. They did a song on The Preface that was dope as hell. I wanted to do another one – me, Royce, and El. The beat got to be right. “Motown 25″ was crazy, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to do a more produced but still raw type of track. That is like the hip-hop heads wet dream. Even though I wanted to be a little more experimental for this album musically, I knew I had to that one track that the hip hop heads going to be like ‘Man, my brain is crushed!’.”

Distortion (featuring Melanie Rutherford):
“‘Distortion’ was me being more detailed about what happened with everything since Tronic. My ups and my downs, more-so my downs. I get in detail about Hexmurda having a stroke and almost dying. Not just me, but the city and hip hop scene almost losing him. I touch on Baatin just passing away out of nowhere. Just when you think everything is going good with him being back in the group and being on the road. All of a sudden you get a phone call ‘Baatin is dead’. I spoke on me getting in a car accident just out of no where like two weeks after Hex went into the hospital. After that, I got a phone call that my close aunts about to pass. For like two or three months a whole bunch of crazy shit happening. I titled it “Distortion” because when I think about distortion, or see an image of something distorted, I think of something kind of chaotic. Something that is not right. Melanie came in and murdered the hook. She really brought the emotion out of this track. My mans Ryan Gimpert from Will Sessions played guitar on it. He really brought the emotion out of the track too. That was one of the tracks that was straight original music, no samples. I played the drum beat on the MPC. While the drum beat was playing, I just hit record while he was playing guitar trying to find something, until some magic happened. Came back the next day to listen to what he did and found some magical moments of him playing guitar. Looped them parts up over the drum beat I made and added my own live instrumentation to it. Me playing the xylophone, the kalimba, and few other instruments on top of it. A part at the end where the track gets real sparse and kinda everywhere, that was really him sound-checking his guitar [laughing]. I was like damn, I’m just going to throw that at the end because that sounded a trip. Quiet as kept, its my favorite track on the album. It just has a good feeling to it.”

Over Again (featuring Monica Blaire):
“That’s the second track that is all live music, no samples. That was another track with Daru on the drums. I wrote a horn line for Will Sessions to come in and play. That joint features Monica Blaire on it. The subject of that song basically not so much ups and downs, but people just settling for a certain lifestyle. Instead of going for their goals or going the extra mile to achieve certain goals in their life. The first verse is about even though I have a following, even though I have fans, or even though I think I’m in a position where I’m good, should I settle for this level or should I try to take it a notch up. Does it end right here? I think about that a lot of times. Is this it? Am I going to be on this level for the rest of my career or the rest of my life? Even though there is always going to be new people that is going to get exposed to my music along the way, is there where it ends? Am I going to reach that certain status? The second verse is about cats on the blocks that settle for a certain lifestyle. The third verse is about a chick that is settling for less too. Monica Blaire came in and blessed the hook and DJ Dez did the cuts.”

Round Of Applause:
“On Tronic, the song “Give The Drummer Some” was when I was getting into the whole afrobeat style of music. I knew I wanted to touch on that style again for this album but kind of like make it bigger and really take it there this time. Do it with some real live drumming. On “Give The Drummer Some”, that was all me on the MPC. That was all MPC programming. This time around, let me do this as kind of do a Fela tribute without naming it a Fela tribute. That was another one that Daru just spazzed out. It all started off with this afrobeat organ sample at the beginning.”

Black & Brown (featuring Danny Brown):
“Danny was another cat I knew I wanted to have on the album before I even started it. That was mostly MPC. I did track the horns and synthed over the sound. I wanted a track with some strings on it. That was the only part of the album that I didn’t write or arrange. I just sent the track over to Sam [Will Sessions]. He arranged all the strings. Danny actually rapped on like three or four joints and this was the last joint he rapped on. I’m glad I didn’t stop at the first two because that joint was the best. Its just some hard shit. It comes on with those strings and just jump in that shit real hard. I wish I could have went back and did a more back and forth thing with Danny but time was ticking.”

Warning (Keep Bouncing):
“I was listening to Ohio Players “Funky Worm”. I had just bought a moog around that time. I’m going to try to replay this shit. I want to flip this shit even thought I know a lot of cats this song before, so let me try to replay it but not play it exact. I was just trying to catch some of the same feel to it. I wanted to make like a play/club record but I didn’t want it to sound typical. Let me make something that when the hip hop cats hear that sounds familiar and that it can still get played on the radio.”

Gospel Psychedelic Rock:
“Thats one of those joints where I found this rock sample that was kind of crazy that I chopped up and used on the record. It had like a church and prog-rock feel to it. I named it “Gospel Psychedelic Rock” because I was excited when heard the rock joint. I heard this rock sample but I was hearing this gospel singing in my head over it. I just had AB sing some gospel type stuff over it. Just trying to come up with a new sound. Thats another style of music I’m trying to not create, but experiment with. A soulful gospel sound with psychedelic rock guitar all mixed into one.”

Closed Chapter (featuring Mr. Porter):
“That was one of those samples I came across I was like ‘Damn, this is magic’. This melody is so sweet. The track is real melodic and it’s got this emotion to it that you got to talk about something to it instead of just rapping. I felt like this is toward the end of the album, let me make this the track where I’m basically let everyone know that through everything I went through that year, all the feelings I have towards the industry, I fell like I’m happy where I’m at. I’m going to keep doing it as long as you rocking with me. It’s a song where you feel like you crossing the finish line and you feel good about the end results of which you created.” | Read More |


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