Curtis Cross makes beats that ripple like heat waves. As Black Milk, the veteran rapper/producer has been pushing the sonic envelope for years. A skilled crate digger and beatsmith who can stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow turntable titans like J Dilla and Madlib, Black Milk knows how to stripmine the choicest bits from music history and hammer them into something shiny and new.
More than just a producer, Black Milk is an accomplished bandleader. On albums like No Poison No Paradise and If There’s a Hell Below, he uses his skill as an arranger to create instrumental backing tracks that hum with energy and warmth. While his lyrical prowess isn’t quite up to the level of his production work, he’s gotten sharper and more assured on the mic with each new record. On 2018’s FEVER (which Cross says was influenced by the psychedelia of Tame Impala and The Internet’s weird neo-soul album Ego Death), he sounds positively hungry. His words snap as hard as his beats.
He’s been active since 2002 and is still growing into his artistry. Forget everything that you know about dairy products, because Black Milk doesn’t curdle with age.
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Black Milk is playing on Friday, June 29, at Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. Tickets are $15-$18 at songkick.com.