Black Milk

In "Bounce," one of many standout tracks from the recently released platter Tronic, Detroit's Curtis "Black Milk" Cross declares, "Even old-school artists feel like the game's fucked" — an expression of empathy that indicates how much ground he's covered during his relatively brief career. At age 25, he's already earned a reputation for production freshness via work for artists such as J Dilla and Pharoahe Monch. But the panache he brings to the likes of "Give the Drummer Sum," with its up-front beats, organ stings and dramatic brass samples, is hardly his only attribute. Unlike many of those who first made a mark with faders instead of microphones, he's a first-rate MC whose delivery is as economical as it is effective. His skills haven't lifted him out of the underground yet, but the support of big names like Common, this bill's headliner, gives him a chance to succeed at a game that's defeated so many performers before him.


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