Curtis Cross, better known by his stage name Black Milk, is a hip hop producer and MC from Detroit, Michigan.
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My new album "If There's a Hell Below" out now.
Been doing music for a while now. And collabbed with artists like Jack White, Danny Brown, Slum Village, J Dilla, Busta Rhymes...
Here at reddit, AMA.
Update: Thanks for hitting me up with some great interesting questions. I enjoyed my time here. If you want to continue conversation with me, hit me up on twitter @black_milk and check out the new album!
Whatever happened to your EP with One Be Lo?
Chances of a Random Axe 2?
Thanks for doing this AMA!
Oh wow, that's a real fan.
We actually recorded the EP. It's sitting in a hard drive, somewhere. I have no idea where that hard drive is. But hopefully, I can find that hard drive one of these days. And release that music. But yeah, we did record an EP.
That's happening. That's already in motion. Trying to drop Random Axe 2 sometime next year. You can check out a song I did with Random Axe on my new album so check my new album.
Thanks for joining!
What is the biggest lesson you took away from working with JDilla?
Also hoping to hear you and Nas collab one day, that would be tight!
Biggest lesson I took from him is... hmm... Probably to always remain humble, you know what I'm saying? Remain humble no matter how many accolades you get. And creatively try to stay innovative. That's what I try to do, you know, as an artist.
And hopefully! That would be awesome. I have plans to get my beats to NAS hopefully in the near future.
Big fan since I first heard Deadly Medley. Loved everything since, with my favorite being the Black and Brown EP (this new one is a close second, though!) Also your episode of Rhythm Roulette was my favorite. Those records tried to clown you, but failed miserably. You killed that.
Any plans to work with Danny Brown again?
Yes. I should be on the next album.
Hey Black Milk - is there a chance you will do a collaborative album with Elzhi and Royce da 5'9"? And call it "Elroyce Jensen," because they have futuristic flows? We need it!
Yeah, it's possible. I just talked to Royce da 5'9" and I talked to Elzhi a couple months ago, so it's possible.
Why did you choose 'black milk' instead of chocolate milk?
'Cuz Chocolate Milk was already taken! Haha!
Do you think Detroit is such a hot-bed of creative people because they have lived through so much socio-economic hardship that it builds character?
Also, do you think we should bring the term "honeydips" back in reference to the ladies?
And I think that Detroit being in the middle of the map - we kind of automatically have influences from the 3 regions around us - East Coast, West Coast, South - that's why we have a mixture of everything in our sound.
Hey Black, what's going on with Elzhi? It seems like nobody has been in contact with him.
Would you consider doing a collaboration album with Blu?
What is your dream rap collaboration?
Last time I talked to Elzhi, he mentioned he was gearing up to release an album for next year. So be on the look out for that.
Me and Blu have been sending music back and forth to each other these last couple months, so there might be something in the near future.
My dream rap collaboration... hmmm. I would have loved to have heard Biggie rap over one of my beats.
Any producers you would like to work with? Or who's work do you admire?
How do you find new music?
Thanks for the AMA!
I'd like to work with Madlib. And I'd also like to get in the studio with Rick Rubin.
I use almost everything that gives me access to music - from Spotify to Shazam, YouTube and I still go to record stores to dig for vinyl.
I really need to know that sample for What its worth haha at least a hint for it...
I can't think of the name of the group right now, it may be hard to find because it's a rare Prog rock album that I got it from.
These past few months I've been heavy into UK / German electropop from back inna day, like late 70's early 80's.
I still talk to Daru from time to time... he's busy drumming for Jack White.
Yeah! I haven't talked to Phat Kat in a while, but still good friends and yeah would love to do more work with him.
Yo 'Sunday's Best / Monday's Worst' was the first song of yours I heard and I instantly loved you. What is your favorite sandwich?
Favorite sandwich is: 5 Guys Double Bacon Hamburger.
That's my favorite one.
Thanks for the reply. Here's to hoping you liberate some gems off of that hard drive.
Perhaps the remix you did for Guilty Simpson's track with Dabrye called Special? ( http://youtu.be/PL2hCnMemq4 )
The Dabrye remix is out there somewhere on the internet!
What's your top five favorite Michigan hip hop albums?
Eminem's "Slim Shady LP," Quelle's "Ghost at the Finish Line," Slum Village's "Fantastic 1" and "Fantastic 2," and Guilty Simpson's "Ode to the Ghetto."
Thanks for the response.
A Madlib/Black Milk collab would be dope. I wonder if Madlib would call up Quasimoto to be on it.
That would be awesome. I love Quasimoto.
Whats it like working with Danny Brown? Black and Brown! is definitely one of my favorite projects in the last couple of years and I wish you nothing but success man, truly.
Even though people might have a perception that Danny's super crazy, and super high, when it's time to work, Danny is always focused and he works pretty fast in the studio.
how do you feel about black milk clothing?
They're cool people. I've actually conversed with them before. And our brands don't affect one another, so it's all good.
I'm a big fan Black Milk! I Love Hell Bellow and your previous work!Here are some questions
What was the first beat you produced?
What got you into production?
What makes a track good for sampling?
What's an artist you love that is outside of hip hop and finally
What song do you think EVERYONE should listen to?
1) First beat i produced professionally was a record called "What is this" on Slum Village's "Trinity" album.
2) A lot of my homeboys and older cousins were into making beats and rhyming. So being around that kinda inspired me to try to do it myself.
3) Emotion / feeling. If it doesn't have emotion / feeling, I won't dig it / sample it.
4) Recently, Electric Wire Hustle.
5) A song EVERYONE should listen to... Funkadelic's Flashlight.
Hey, I really enjoyed No Poison No Paradise, my all time favourite LP.
What is your favourite J Dilla beat?
My favorite J Dilla beat is actually on a b-tape, but my favorite J Dilla beat that people may know is Slum Village's "Untitled" off of Fantastic Vol 2.
How did you feel about Detroit vs Everybody?
How do you consistently release so much music?
I liked the song a lot. I think it brings a spotlight on Detroit & Detroit artists.
Maybe because I don't get out much. Most of the time I'm at home, working on beats, on songs, and I like to share that music with people, don't like to sit on it. So yeah.
I noticed some Herbie Hancock samples in If there's a Hell Below, what's your fave Herbie album?
What is the origin of your name? I'm really curious.
There's no origin. I just had a whole bunch of crazy friends around me that kinda gave me that nickname, for whatever reason I never changed it. It became my stage name.
Hi Black Milk two questions! In your opinion who are the most talented artists in Hip Hop? And what is the craziest thing you've seen on tour? thanks!
Current? I feel like Kindred is the most, he's had the most impact in hiphop right now. And craziest thing I've seen on tour? Probably people jumping onstage while performing in Paris, just to stage dive, while i'm in the middle of my set, and some people actually doing bodily harm to themselves from stage diving. But not here.
Hello Mr. Black Milk! I love your new album, my question is: who do you think is the most influential non-rapper Detroit musician? Also I know you did a production with Jack White's record label ThirdManRecord's, can you talk at all about that?
Probably Stevie Wonder.
Yeah, Jack White is a cool guy, and you should go definitely pick up all 3 versions of the vinyl release on ThirdMan.
A while back Madlib came out and said he won't allow his music to be "exploited like Dilla's has". T3 and Questlove came out saying Madlib had it all wrong/was being paranoid about the industry, and that the estate had respected Dilla's instructions from before he died. What is your opinion on it?
My opinion is: I agree with Questlove and T3. As an artist, those are some of the things you should think about putting your music in the right hands. So after you're long gone, your music will be able to live on in a proper way. That's all you can do.
What rapper do you know that smokes the most weed?
I would have to say the rappers that I'm around that smoke the most are Guilty Simpson and Sean P.
Do you watch "Black Jesus"?
I've watched a few episodes. But none of the episodes are as hilarious as the trailer for "Black Jesus." The trailer was the best thing "Black Jesus" ever produced.
Thank you for doing this and taking questions!
What inspired the move from Detroit to Dallas in recent years? Has that effected your creative approach in anyway?
My old lady is from Dallas. So I decided to breathe some new air, and hang out down there for a little while. But I don't think it really has affected my creativity that much. And if it has, I can't really notice in what ways. But I like Dallas. It's cool.
What up Black?
Were you ever approached by Em to produce Det vs Everybody?
Why haven't you , El and Royce formed a group named after one of your joints? ? (Motown 25, Deadly Medley)
Ever thought of remixing Detroit's New Dance Show with Jaded Inc (Mayer and 14KT)? Their vibe fit that track perfect.
Come back to LA soon.
The idea of me, Roye and Elzhi starting a group is awesome, but the reality is it's hard to bring 3 solo acts together to make, you know, a collaborative project. You have to wait for the perfect time.
You are exactly right, and me and 14KT have been talking all pretty often about a new style of uptempo electronic music. But for Detroit's New Dance Show, my inspiration came from UK electro-pop from the 80's.
Hey Black Milk! I really liked your collab with BADBADNOTGOOD and I was wondering if a collab with some members of Odd Future is in the works? Been a fan for a long time keep up the dope beats!
I have been talking to one member from OF, so it's possible!
Who's your favorite musician of all time? Favorite musician from Detroit?
Prince! J Dilla.
Who do you like of the younger producers/rappers coming out of Detroit right now? Have you hooked up with anyone TX based?
I haven't hooked up with anyone Texas-based but I'm digging the new producers and the newer artists that's coming out of Detroit right now, from Clear Soled Forces to Quelle, Denmark and more...
I have a few beats from The Practice, Lo Fi are and bees and a few of those other batches, any chance of those ever being released?
What constantly motivates you to keep innovating and chaining sounds, every album sounds so different but so incredible? p.s ITAHB might just be my favourite from you, and I been a fan since the BR Gunna days
-Also, being from London, is there anyone you know about from here/ anyone you would like to work with?
Those batches of beats weren't intended to be heard by the world, so maybe... not. So enjoy them. Because only a handful of people have them.
Damn. Being a music fan of so many different styles and genres makes it natural for me to experiment and explore different things for every album.
I'm actually working with this young hip hop group from the UK now... Hawk House.
I remember you didn't like the "Runaway Love" remix that Kanye did, but What do you think about Ye?? What's your opinion? and would you like a collaboration with him??
Yes, I'd love to get in a studio with Kanye. I feel like he opened the door up for people to appreciate artists like me, producer / rappers.
What kinda lunch can you, Sean P, and Guilty all agree on?
Ha. There's never any agreements with Sean P.
What exactly makes the milk black?
I want to produce a track for you. Whats the best way to go around something like that?
Send me soundcloud links to my twitter @black_milk.
Black Milk: I have mp3s from you from 2010 that i've YET to listen to, and theres more and more songs that are coming out everyday from you and every other artist around. Have you found a balance between constantly releasing music to stay present and taking your time with music to ensure what you release isnt just buried under the masses?
EDIT: this Mo Power song is great
I try to release a couple projects a year. Because in this day and age, you definitely have to stay in front of people's faces if you want to stay somewhat relevant. And I make a TON of music, so I don't want to sit on it, I want to release it out in the world.
You're a huge inspiration of mine. If you don't answer this question I hope you at least read this sentence and you understand how much your music has inspired me. But on to my question
can you talk about your creative process and what you find gets the best results for you?
To give insight into my question the reason I ask is because there are times when I'm creating music that I hit what I consider to be profound moments , but I never fully feel in control of when I produce those moments and I wanted to know if there's any thing you do in particular to hit those moments?
I take a nap, and I eat thai food. And that usually gets my creative juices flowing. I do actually take naps, though.
What's Danny Brown like in person?
Honestly, I'm a relatively new fan of your. I listened to Black & Brown and Album Of The Year when they came out and really liked them and just checked our NP,NP and the new record this year. I guess nobody can answer this as well as you so where do YOU recommend I go next from there? Love your work so far man
Basically he's the same person that you see in the videos and onstage. He's actually that same person in the studio.
The new album If There's A Hell Below ! And Tronic!
Yo, I'm from Michigan and I've been looking for some more Detroit rappers to listen to. Who are some good artists that go under the radar?
Clear Souled Forces. Quelle. And Denmark.
First off thank you for doing this AMA, since your last album release I've tried to spend time studying your songs but what I'm most curious of is why you chose that artwork for the cover? If you could, elaborate on how it came to fruition. Great work on the album.
The inspiration for the art for the new album came from old prog rock records from the 1970s. Example: Gentle Giant, King Crimson, and stuff like that.
Hi, Black Milk!
Thanks for helping keep the spirit of Detroit hip-hop (and hip-hop in general) alive.
I'm wondering if there's any chance of more Danny Brown collaborations in the future and what was the visual/aesthetic inspiration for the video for "What It's Worth?"
Thanks again and keep rockin'!
I've been talking to Danny the past few weeks, and yes, it's possible that I might be on Danny's next album.
I wanted to put a visual out there where it represents me reflecting in a room with my thoughts.
Great show in Toronto! If you remember I was that one guy during soundcheck just vibeing out 'cause I came waaay to early. First off I loved If There's A Hell Below, opening track made me tear up from your production.
On Insta you've shown some practice beats which are crazy. How do you go about finding your samples? What do you do that's considered 'practice' and not practice? Lastly, do you feel like you've differentiated yourself from other producers in the game?
Keep doing what you're doing, we love the music.
I just randomly sit in record stores for hours, listening to vinyl until I hear those little pieces of magic that I can turn into hiphop beats later on.
I guess... I like to time myself to see how fast I can make a number of beats BUT the catch is to make a number of beats that reaches a certain standard.
Yes, I do. Clearly, since i've been able to maintain an audience and build a fanbase over the years lets me know that i've created a lane of my own in the music industry.
Are their any iconic hip hop beats that are loved by most, but you actually don't care for?
Aw shit. Nothing comes to mind. That's a difficult one.
Hey Black Milk! Im a big fan of yours and Jack White's, I first heard your stuff when I was looking through the Third Man blue series singles, i checked out "Album of the year" and was blown away, so i had to have your 7" the production and writing are so so well done on Album of the year the tracks you cut with Jack are so raw and have a punk rock feel to them aswell. Any way 4 Questions! 1.Who are your favourite rappers right now? 2. do you like Childish Gambino? what was working with Jack White like? What would you like Detroit to do to help Detroit and if i visit it this summer what blues and hip hop clubs should i visit? Thanks! Love the new album
-Kid From Cold ass Canada
1) Favorite rappers right now - Earl Sweatshirt, Chance the Rapper.
2) I like him as an actor and a comedian. Not the biggest fan of his music.
3) Jack White was awesome and interesting at the same time. It was awesome because he's a genius musician, and it was interesting because he had taxidermies on all of the walls, and I couldn't escape them. For real.
4) Not really sure what clubs you should hit. But if you go to Detroit, you probably want to go around the time when the movement festivals are happening, try and hit that up, and probably the jazz festival. Those 2 festivals. Good times.
You mentioned your liked Earl Sweatshirt. He was somewhat of a hipster icon for awhile (probably still is).
What do you think of the increasing number of hipsters who show up for rap/ hiphop shows? Is there a marked cultural shift on who is going to hip hop shows that you've noticed?
(love your new album)
That doesn't really matter, if you're a new fan, or an old fan of hip hop. All that matters is if you enjoy and support the artists.
Do you think rap should stay regional? You would think that with the net, rap regions would meld a little more but it has yet to happen on a wide scale.
Exmple: Detroit vs. the world!
I think people blend genres and styles from different regions unconsciously. I don't think it's as regional as it used to be, back in the 90s, because of the internet. And everybody has a little bit of everything in their music, whether it's the South, East Coast or West Coast, you're hearing sounds from everywhere.
What's the most comfortable outfit you can piece together from all your clothing? Can't truly be in the zone without bein comfy cozy.
Do you miss Dunkaroos?
I never had Dunkaroos. But most of the time, when I'm working at home, I'm wearing either gym shorts or sweats.
Hey Black Milk! Huge fan of "No Poison, No Paradise" which makes me wonder, what's your favorite album you've put out and why?
I really don't have a favorite. But the new album seems like it will be my favorite album out of my whole catalogue.
What Up, Black Milk! I've been a huge fan of your music since I first heard "Danger" on Saints Row back in the day. Just a couple questions
1) I would definitely do it again. And the only thing that was stressful was having cameras shoot you while you trying to make a beat.
2) Bjork. And Lil B.
3) I'm definitely a fan of Quik. And I guess you could say moreso his engineering inspired me to one day be that good.
What was it like working with Jack White? Also what do you think is your biggest non-music accomplishment?
Biggest non-music accomplishment... being able to take care of my immediate family. And at first it was intimidating working with Jack White, until I realized he was just a regular down to earth funny type of guy like me. Which made the creative process ten times easier.
Hey I've been a huge fan for a while.
Do you ever wish that your career would blow up more, or are you happier with a smaller but more dedicated fanbase?
Also, are the strings on Black and Brown (the song) a sample, or were they recorded in studio? They're so perfect.
If something magically happens, where I have mainstream success, I would be fine with it. If not, I'll still be absolutely fine with it, because I have awesome fans and to be able to make a living off of something that started out as a hobby is great.
They were recorded in a studio by this band from Detroit named Will Sessions.
What was the inspiration behind the track "Detroit's New Dance Show"? I found this song to be more different than anything you've put out. Love the vibe of it and the whole album in general. Any plans to visit the West Coast? How does Detroit hip hop continue to stand out and make a name for itself?
Go to YouTube and type in "Detroit's New Dance Show." And you will find, you know, basically where the inspiration came from. And West Coast, I'm definitely out there, touring up and down California.
Is there any music artist or producer that YOU want to put us on?
I have 2 artists on my label - indiepop artists Sudie and a Texas group named The Outfit, TX. You should check them out.
how did the collab with badbadnotgood happen?
Converse wanted to put together 2 artists that were from 2 different worlds. So they made a mashup with me and badbadnotgood and the track came out awesome and I hope to do more work with badbadnotgood.
Quelle Chris and Denmark Vesse are great, big fan of Sheefy McFly but he's my friend so I'm biased... into Red Pill Rap, Tomahawk, Kash Tha Kushman, Dopehead too...
You gonna take Will Sessions Band out on tour with you? Their stuff at the Dilla tribute at DEMF a few years back was excellent and I know they've recorded with you before.
I would love to take Will Sessions on the road with me, but it gets difficult sometimes to bring multiple bands on tour.
Which city is your favourite for record shopping? Is there a place that you look forward to every tour just so you can dig before shows?
Rotterdam. A place called Demon Fuzz. And San Francisco, Groovemerchant. Los Angeles' Amoeba. And Rotterdam, Demon Fuzz.
Hi Black Milk,
I've never heard of you up until this ama - but after looking you up just now on youtube I saw that you did a collab with BBNG and already being a fan of theirs I decided to give it a listen. I REALLY enjoyed it and was just wondering what the process was like working with them on this track.
Was it all just done in one big session? Who approached who? etc.
Thanks for doing the AMA and I'll be sure to check out some of your other work (any recommendations would be welcomed)!
I wish we could've gotten in the studio together, face to face! But this collab had to be done in a matter of days so we did the email thing. And check out the new album and the rest of my catalogue on Spotify.
When are you going to produce a track for the movie Gospel according to Robert Price?
I have no idea what that is?
hey man, just wanted to share some love. Every album I've listened to of yours has been top notch lyrically and production-wise. I really enjoy your music and just want you to know that your work is appreciated. As for a question, how do you see your production style evolving in the future? Do you want to stick to your roots or start branching out and incorporating more elements of electronic, trip hop, psychedelic, funk, etc?
I actually have a project that will be up under another alias that's more uptempo, fast-paced, and electronica stylistically.
Have you ever been starstruck?
Yeah. First time I met Jack White. First time I met J Dilla. First time I met Ghostface.
Any engineering tips? any go to thing that you have to use on each mix?
the new album sonically sounds amazing, certainly your best mixed album so far
Also what is that warp album that I saw mentioned in an interview a while back?
One of the main things I use in my mixes are high-pass filters. I've learned that using a high-pass filter really allows the sounds to breathe in the speakers. And it makes the sounds feel more clear.
And technically, it's not being released on Warp, it will be released on Bleep, and that's all I can say at this point. Stay tuned.