Shoot a glance across the sprawling Hip Hop landscape and it becomes obvious that making great music is only half the battle. Modern-day DIY outlets like SoundCloud and YouTube allow music to cross the globe instantly, but have also catalyzed a torrent of new music releases largely impossible to keep up with.
In 2016, standing out from the crowd takes equal part skill, grit and sheer imagination. Maybe it’s rap-game Darwinism at its finest, but surviving in an era where aspiring artists can rip a copy of Pro Tools, buy a microphone from Amazon and start recording the very next day leads to a whole lot of “check out my new mixtape fam” and not nearly enough pioneering music.
Maybe that’s what makes tracks like Miloh Smith’s “Baby Miloh Two” all that much more refreshing. Miloh’s latest single finds her flexing cadence across a myriad of tempo changes and relentless transitions; by the time the bass kicks in at 0:45, the track could have already been broken up into two separate releases. By 1:11, it feels like Miloh has broken into a clean sprint across a rap obstacle course at practically twice the tempo than when it started. It’s just another display of versatility from an artist that can both sing and rap with equal ferocity (as noted in NPR’s “Songs We Love”.) Over bit-crushed keys and the perpetually varied production of Rich Kidd, Miloh manages to throw in a Missy Elliott quote and challenge her adversaries, while still allowing enough time for an indulgent, instrumental outro to wash over us before it’s all said and done.
If “Baby Miloh Two” is a sign of things to come, Miloh’s upcoming Deer EP will undoubtedly raise the bar even higher for the artist, who’s buzzing across Atlanta and helping to usher in a new generation of rising rap/R&B talent. Miloh’s previous single, “Pretty Dirty” featuring OG Maco, has amassed just shy of a half million streams online and propelled her from local to national consciousness.
We had a chance to chat with Miloh Smith about her background, musical influences and recent impressions across the genre.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and your introduction to music in general?
I’m from Marietta, Georgia and that’s all I knew for the longest time. It’s outside of the city, so really all I ever did was listen to music and draw. Our lil “internet” just wasn’t so I stayed off it before I broke something. We only moved once but I changed schools more than a few times growing up. So I didn’t go to school with kids in my neighborhood and didn’t live near the kids I knew from school, so yeah…I’m still learning how to kick it or whatever. But I’ve always been able to relate to the music. No matter what.
Music was always a part of my life. I remember my whole family dancing on our ugly green carpet and my dad videotaping us…back when he used to rock the du-rag and a big ass silver hoop earring. My mom was a singer when she was my age too. She had a band. She’s on YouTube with it and everything (laughs). She has some real fans for that.
Your latest release, “Baby Miloh Two” utilizes a profound amount of variation. What inspired that approach and what type of response did the track receive?
What inspired “Baby Miloh Two”? The music, honestly. I pretty much make whatever song I wanna hear at the time so variation is a real thing for me. I’d met Rich Kidd in L.A. and he was just making the beat and I started writing almost immediately. The response has been great. I know most people know me as a singer, but rapping is just so much fun man. And you know, I’m pretty good with the lyrics, so I’m glad people are taking to it.
Your next project is slated as the Deer EP. When is that coming out and what can we expect?
Yea, DEER is coming out this summer and it’s cute af. So so cute. We got merch. It’s all on the way. I’m really big on double entendres, so it can be interpreted more as “dear” and that’s all I wanna say about that.
What’s been the best thing for Hip Hop in 2016? The worst?
This question makes me wish I listened to more Hip Hop right now (laughs). Lemonade is the best anything this year honestly, so I say Lemonade.
The worst? Y’all trying to get me in some trouble. Ok. The worst thing in Hip Hop for me is not getting a pair of Rihanna‘s Puma Creepers in the color I wanted. That’s a significant piece of popular culture. History a little bit really, and I definitely feel left out…and I’m short so I really wanted those shoes.
Any last words or shout outs?
Yea, shout out to my best friend, Alyssa. It’s her birthday today and she’s been my friend since our moms were pregnant together. I love you. You’re the sister I always wanted. Oh, and my boy Joe Pitts!
While Miloh’s latest, “Baby Miloh Two” doesn’t elicit the softened pop-appeal of her established release “Pretty Dirty” it showcases a range of playfulness and command that’s exceptionally rare to find synthesized into a single track.
The more you play the two tracks back-to-back, the clearer it becomes that Miloh’s sonic-spectrum isn’t just burgeoning, but that it’s boundless too.
You can catch Miloh Smith’s Deer EP out this summer on KEAIP Music.
Visuals by Richie Williamson