MILO @ THE GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY IN LA, 5/15
Occasional mentions of his Magic the Gathering skills and his deceased brother, Rob, formulate sad, nerdy, and articulate lines over calm and collected beats; but at his first show in Los Angeles in years, Milo was undoubtedly alive.
A rapper, poet, and artist from Wisconsin, Rory Ferreira, who performs under the moniker Milo, joined DJ Nobody, Josef Leimberg, and headliner Teebs during a free show at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles on Thursday. I was joined by a young audience who, it seemed, lived their lives narrated by the stylistic tracks of this, as he calls himself, rapsmith. In performance, though, he was unlimited by the perceived persona of a genius yet underscored musician but instead driven, by emotiveness and the energy of this niched audience, in creating a few tangible and extremely human moments of artistry.
I was introduced to Milo's music during a late night drive with a friend. I once had a very intense musical phase that was characterized by emo alternative rock from the mid ninteties; it was intriguing to me that Milo, a rapper, poet, and artist fromWisconsin, would sample a track of which this very different genre revolved around. Hearing the twinge of deep notes and the chorus of "One Headlight" by the Wallflowers in Milo's "Folk-Metaphysics" off of his sophomore album Things That Happen at Day // Things that Happen at Night during a roam through quiet streets, I became immersed in Milo's artistic, alternative rap.
Besides his frequent acknowledgement and impassioned gazes toward the audience, Milo's humanity was composed of his spoken appreciation to the other artists at the performance, towards the acquaintances whom he spotted and shouted out in the crowd before him, towards the collaborators and featured artists of his tracks such as Open Mike Eagle and other artists of the HellfyreClub collective to which he formerly belonged, of whomst he thanked fondly as he introduced his performances. Although heavily subdued when I spoke to him in person, I felt comforted, that this curious, collected, capacitated person was genuine, and completely sure of the meaning of his words, to himself at least.
When Milo introduced "An Encyclopedia", off of his 2015 album So the Flies Don't Come, the youths I was pressed against the barricade alongside beamed wholeheartedly. Somehow, this group of enthused Los Angelenos, who weren't more than five years younger than Milo himself, completely passionately felt his words,
"The difference between quantum leap and sliders
That is if you have an eye for
The mid-nineties Sci-Fi sitcom
Used to listen to Myka 9 rip songs
And think 'Gee mom, this seems strong, good,"
dearly, as they recited them by heart. One thing I was unable to ignore, though, was his blatantly active language speaking of racial tensions, and his own racial identity as a black man, within his music that at first listen might sound like undistinguishable, highly crafted gibberish. I wondered if any of these smartly dressed teens could truly hear it all through the artistry, if they had any way to deeply relate to or even understand what he called for. In a track I hadn't heard before, he repeated lines that were may have been applicable, even directed, to most anyone standing in the audience. Even if these young people listened to what he said, would they ever think he could be talking to them, in criticism, and not simply rapping for their enjoyment?
So in all of his complicated genius, his personable demeanor, and his seemingly lust for life, one well balanced with a passion for understanding what scathes beneath it all, Milo really spoke. Although I didn't hear my beloved track "Folk-Metaphysics" live, I'll continue finding a true intrigue for people who appreciate the man himself, Rory Ferreira. I do hope that we can listen, deeply, with feeling, to what he rhymes for, however. In the words of Milo,
"White motherfuckers always want a redo,
When they ain't deserve the first chance."