Milo (aka Rory Ferreira) has had a momentous 2018. On the first day of the year, his side project, Scallops Hotel, dropped the album “sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face”. In April, he officially opened the record store Soulfolks Records in Biddeford, Maine. His record label, Ruby Yacht, released the self-titled debut of Nostrum Grocers, a rap duo comprised of himself and frequent collaborator Elucid, in early August. Following these releases, his fourth LP as Milo, “budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies,” just arrived on Sept. 21, coming less than two months off the heels of “Nostrum Grocers.” Despite the constant output, Milo’s work hasn’t flagged, and “ornithologists” is yet another intelligent, tenacious album from hip-hop’s resident philosopher.
The new album continues to bring sharp insights, referential lyrics and the lo-fi production that has underscored his releases since 2017’s “Who Told You to Think??!!?!?!?!” For example, the first verse on the album, from the piano-underscored “mythbuilding exercise no.9,” references Game of Thrones, but only after shouting out the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. The rest of the song references Enlightenment-era atheists, Langston Hughes, Greek mythology and the now defunct Scribble Jam hip-hop festival. Kenny Segal’s production on the song is characteristically jazz-inflected and introduces some exciting electronic elements with the start of the second verse. This is indicative of the rest of the album, which illustrates an artist who is self-assured in his music and his place in the industry, but is still taking steps to evolve his sound.
While the Schopenhauer references aren’t exactly new territory for Milo, his approach to music hasn’t stagnated. On the new album, Milo’s lyrical form takes a distinct evolution. In keeping with his vision for the work as a “contemporary rhythm and poetry album,” the rapping is faster and relies more on stream-of-consciousness, impressionistic lyrics. Milo isn’t feeding the listener a distinct narrative, but rather stringing together a constellation of images and ideas to be interpreted as a holistic statement.
Album standout “failing the stress test (iguessillbeheadingthen)” is an ode to his independence, both artistic and economic. “While I trudged the straight and thinning, in the mud I made a killing,” he raps, referencing his dogged commitment to keeping his rapping sharp and true to his roots. For Milo, identity and autonomy are interconnected and of paramount importance; without them, he loses credibility and purpose as an artist. The philosophical lyrics put his best foot first, and by revisiting these themes, Milo cements his identity as an artist with a message.
Milo’s extensive output this year shows a rapper that is focused and ambitious. On “ budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies,” he takes some time to breathe, and gives the listener his most approachable work in years. “ornithologists” shows a re-energized Milo, an artist committed to his own bold quest for self-discovery and meaning. Looking back, Milo has more than demonstrated his own conviction and stamina with one of the most prolific catalogues of any rapper in 2018. Looking forward, “ornithologists” shows his long-term durability—it’s a promise that he won’t stop his follow-through.
Edited by Siena DeBolt | email@example.com