Black Milk has been killing the game for more than a decade. Known for his innovative approach, the Detroit-born rapper/producer’s new record Fever is his seventh studio album since his 2005 debut, Sound of the City. During his rise, he’s collaborated with and been cosigned by living legends like Royce Da 5’9 and the Roots’ Black Thought.
Lead single “Laugh Now Cry Later” is just one example of how Fever feels like scrolling through an infinite news feed. The song’s lyrics provide spot-on commentary about the ways in which the news cycle and social media impact the mental state of young people of color and their relationships. The characters in the music video burn sage, fill their home with plants, drink tea, light candles—hopeful gestures of supposed self-care. Yet they spend the bulk of their time interacting with their phone screens, video games, or absorbing TV instead of each other. An image of a Black man’s tears and eerily bright eyes at the end of the video ends up feeling simultaneously terrifying and relatable.
But Fever also delivers sonically: Electronic soul production is layered with heavy guitar riffs on tracks like “True Lies” and “DiVE,” while “Could It Be” and “Will Remain” feature smooth, danceable production. Perhaps my favorite song on the album is closing track “You Like to Risk It All / Things Will Never Be,” with its beautiful keys, synth, and euphoric vocal effects. Black Milk’s Fever never sounds abrasive or explosive—with topical lyrics and fleshed-out melodies, it’s an example of his continuously inventive spirit. Now on his “Fever Tour,” Black Milk is bringing along the Nat Turner live band from 2016’s The Rebellion Sessions and having Portland’s cosmic-soul outfit Brown Calculus open the show.