By Taylor Ruckle and AJ Bakhtari
WXTJ and the Student Hip-Hop Organization (SHHO) hosted milo at the UVA Chapel on January 27, along with Dazeases and Keese.
We arrived from Dec elections just after Keese had concluded his set. We agree that people who skip opening acts are the worst kind of people, but we are stoked to catch Keese at the SHHO Showcase next week at The Southern. In the meantime you can check out his False Hope EP at soundcloud.com/keese434.
Dazeases arrives and parts the center of the crowd to make room for her act. The Richmond-based artist, stunting in a backwards-pink cap, opens with “Sad College Kids”, a melancholic, go-go pop anthem that whines: “I don’t care”, over an 808-drumbeat.
After a wavy outro of the next song, “Still Tongues”, Dazeases tosses off her cap, flips off the chapel’s lights, and steps into her self-constructed pulpit, everyone else climbing on the pews to get a better view. Illuminated by an on-stage lamp, Dazeases’ silhouette twists and reaches, her shadow chasing her as she dances around the flame.
A howl pierces our ears, followed by whispers, blowing winds, foreign mumbles, and underwater sirens. Amidst the confusion we find Dazeases crouched in child’s pose, musing in contemplative prayer, a demonic echo behind her soft melody. “You want a girl you perceive,” she sings through the madness. It was a divine scene that continued to build until the entire chapel rumbled from the cascading bass.
Dazeases displays versatility in her set vocally and emotionally, from trap bangers like “Black Crystal” to the almost uplifting future pop of “Bloody Knees”. She shares the darkest messages in the purest ways, leaving an insidious impression upon departing the stage. Her EP, Crumbs, is available at dazeases.bandcamp.com.
“Peace, peace, peace, what’s up, we out here somewhere in Virginia,” milo says, surveying the packed chapel. “I’m about to open that spell book up.”
The Wisconsin rapper, real name Rory Ferreira, goes by many titles—Black Orpheus, Flows-A-Million, and The Wise Owl, to name a few—but has released most of his records as Scallops Hotel or milo. It’s under these two names he released his most recent projects, “too much of life is mood” (2016) and “so the flies don’t come” (2015), respectively.
From the backing tracks you can pick out breakbeats, the occasional instrumental hook, and the timeless warm crackle of vinyl, but milo’s lyrics are the true standout. Maybe it’s the setting playing tricks on me, but he delivers them with the urgency and passion of a sermon.
“I’m the type of nigga to wear protective layering / Preaching loudly about the journey and the laboring / I just want to die in the name of something great / No, I don’t want to die at all,” he raps on “Take Advantage of the Naysayer,” a track which takes its title from the rhetorical arguments of Schopenhauer.
To call his source material eclectic would be an understatement; his academic background is in philosophy, but he’s as likely to reference Pulp Fiction, or Cowboy Bebop, or Nickelodeon Guts as he is to name-drop Hegel.
“It’s enough to send kisses down your arm like Gomez / How he dazzled with bafflegab / Sisyphus surmounts the agro crag / Cantillating grace and they can’t keep my pace,” he raps on “Zen Scientist,” his encore for the evening. His cadence fulfills the transcendent potential of slam poetry. His wit is formidable, as is his nonchalant sense of humor.
milo speaks with reverence for classic hip-hop, which he says sounded like wizardry to him as a kid. His set is full of quotations and recommendations (“do you ever listen to old E40 records?”).
He keeps things light between songs, but his performance also comes with a warning for dark political times. milo explains he’s prepared, as a black man with a newborn, to leave the country in case he and his family should become unsafe.
“2017, gotta step it up, they after us now,” he said. “Know what you gonna do when the shit hits the fan.”
100% of the night’s proceeds went to UNCF, Planned Parenthood, and the Blue Ridge Abortion Assistance Fund.
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