I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside‘s younger brother (Milo even works “I stay indoors” as the hook of “Zen Scientist” to strengthen the comparison): an indoorsy and concise (32-minutes) hip-hop record filled with sleeper-melodies for beats and a honest-to-goodness great rapper at the forefront. (Nothing as gate-crashing as “Mantra”, though “Song About a Raygunn (An Ode to Driver)” tries.) Milo’s debt to spoken word might be off-putting to the heads, but his love of the English language is headier than most anything I’ve heard all year (to quote himself: “His raps move heat like thermostats adjusting centigrades”). “They couldn’t predicate upon a precipice” is how he begins the record before beginning an alliteriative all-out assault, invoking a less merciful Perseus, describing himself as thirstiest and impervious, summoning what seems to be a Stephen King reference (“On the front door we pained a mural of the meek tortoise”) and proceeding to save lives (“I write poems and builds suits of armor for suicide note authors”). That’s the first 70 seconds of the record, and if that hasn’t sufficiently grabbed you, then your loss (even though we all wish they bothered to give the song a proper send-off).
Okay, so it’s not perfect: awkward lines like “I can rap like my last name was ‘Blackman'” (though it’s as best we can hope for the cap off the preceding humourous “I can wrap like an Afghan”) and Future Islands’ charismatic vocalist Hemlock Ernst’s “Lunch line headsets had me thinking yoghurt backwards” don’t effectively convey “Souvenir”‘s bystander-view of the culture war (though “And pretended we didn’t hear / When white fans said ‘nigger’ fast” does); Open Mike Eagle’s half-hearted humour doesn’t catch fire (“I specialize in pyrokenesis, or whatever”; “I get my predictive power from this liquid hibiscus flower”); “Going No Place” is mostly a Elucid showcase with a serviceable-at-best beat; the repeated hook of “An Encyclopedia” stalls the song. Speaking of, I think critics’ have overstated producer Kenny Segal’s beats: they’re mellow, but hardly jazzy. Highlights, beat-wise: the melody of “Souvenir” (an inspired Shuggie Otis sample); the de-tuned keyboards of “Re: Animist” (“I heard Wal-Mart signed Jason Derulo / Then dropped him cause he couldn’t sell crew socks / And refused to adopt the umlaut / That’s when I flashed an odd smile / And said I only wear argyle”); the thin-string line of “Napping Under the Echo Tree.”
Two of the hardest-working hip-hop reviewers both gave this one glowing write-ups (Gary Suarez and David Amidon). They both seem to know what they’re talking about, so listen to them.