Backed by a live band, Detroit MC Black Milk nourishes a hip-hop crowd

Black Milk, performing at Beauty Bar on Sunday, September 22.
Photo: Adam Shane
Max Plenke

Four stars

Black Milk September 22, Beauty Bar

Thank God for Black Milk. While most Vegas-routed hip-hop headliners tend to ride the coattails of their ’00s selves to a higher state of crowd control, Detroit’s Black Milk, backed by the absurdly talented Nat Turner band, was driven by a separate power: highly technical, typhonic barrages of impossible sound.

Sunday Skoolin’s September 22 installment was the first time Black Milk finally made the stop through Vegas, thanks to the support tour for his forthcoming album, No Poison No Paradise, out October 15. But this wasn’t just a set of songs. Each tune—“The Matrix,” “When the Sky Falls,” a ton of the new record, et al—was taken apart, eventually torn down and built back up with the same bones but new muscles until three minutes stretched into six, the keys and drums and bass pushing one another over the ledge of what would’ve otherwise been a good but predictable rap song.

Black Milk himself stayed abreast with scalpel-precise bars that demanded the lung capacity of a cross-country runner. It culminated in “Losing Out” from 2011’s Tronic, which turned ravenous and, around the four-minute mark, when the drums rose to a fever pitch, broke out of its cage and ran snarling around the dancefloor, picking up the previously sleepy Sunday night crowd until the room’s canopy layer was nothing but raised hands and screamed hooks.

Midlevel acts like Black Milk don’t get a second thought on Vegas visits, which may be why the city receives so few of them. But after the response of Sunday’s crowd, hopefully we’ll see more of Milk and his ilk in the future.

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