Thanks to the commercial success of groups like The Beasties Boys, Vanilla Ice and 3rd Bass, by the mid-nineties, major labels were ready and very willing to find and sign the next hot white rapper to a deal. Insert New Jersey native Thomas Wlodarczyk, better known as Miilkbone, into the equation.
Loosely linked to Naughty By Nature’s Illtown squad, Miilkbone would get a deal with Capitol Records (which was also the label home to the Beastie Boys at the time), where he would release his debut album, Da’ Miilkrate. Miilkbone would call on newcomers, Mufi and Nick Wiz to produce the bulk of the album, with Kay Gee and a few others contributing a track here and there. The album produced two singles that made little noise and the album was a commercial failure that received average to poor reviews from the critics. Da’ Miilkcrate would be the only album Miilkbone would release on Capitol, but he would go on to release two independent albums, do a short stint with Suge Knight and Death Row Records, and make a dis record aimed at Eminem (see “Dear Slim”).
I’ve never listened to Da’ Miilkrate before this post. I found a used copy of the cd a few years ago and bought it on the strength of the first single that I liked back in the day.
By the way, the cover artwork looks horrible. Hopefully the album doesn’t sound as bad.
No Gimmicks – Da’ Miilkrate opens with a female asking Miilkbone questions about his parents opinion on him choosing to pursue a career in rap and how he feels about being viewed as a “wannabe” by most of the world. Miilk answers her questions in a roundabout way with very wordy responses.
Ghettobiz – Over a somberish mid-tempo instrumental (produced by Nick-Wiz), Miilk embraces and big ups the griminess of the hood. He also manages to slide in “nigga” a couple of times during his verses. I’m shocked no one called him out on this back in the day. Maybe that’s because no one ever listened to the album, including his own crew. Regardless, it’s not a bad song, but it’s a bit too low on energy for an opening track.
Keep It Real – This was the lead single from Da’ Miilkrate, and probably the millionth song made in the mid-nineties with this cliché song title. Mufi builds the dope backdrop around an ill piano loop and an AZ vocal snippet that our host uses to display his adequate rhyming ability. This one has held up well over the years.
Mindgamez – Nick Wiz hooks up a dark, hard and subdued instrumental with a deep bass line and adds a catchy Buckshot vocal snippet for the hook. Miilk sounds decent on this one, even though he does get a little slothful with the bars that lead into each hook: “My clique is swayze, because I’m gettin’ lazy. What the hell does that even mean? I like the instrumental, but it would have been nice to hear Miilk challenge himself and replace the random freestyle rhymes with something more conceptual that fits the song title and the sick Buckshot sample.
Traffic Jam – Interlude that sets up the next song…
Move Wit’ Da’ Groove – Mufi and someone named Twig are credited for this slightly cheesy synth-heavy backdrop that our host uses to conger up party vibes with light-hearted rhymes. The instrumental does sound a bit generic, but I like its breezy vibes. It makes for great summertime cookout music.
How Ya Like It? – Nick Wiz hooks up a milky smooth (no pun intended) instrumental for Miilk to spit more freestyle rhymes over. He also spits what may be the worst punchline in the history of hip-hop: “I’m buckin’ shots with rocks so lay low, I fucked your bitch in a barn and now she’s really a hey (hay) ho!!!!”. It sounds worse than it reads. The Method Man sample on the hook was a nice added touch to the song.
Freestyle – Over an intense backdrop, Miilkbone and friends warm up for the next song…
Set It Off – Miilkbone invites Nitty, Kandi Kain (yep, the same one from Naughty By Nature’s “Connections”) and Trip to join him on this cipher joint. Kay Gee lays a raw up-tempo instrumental that sounds even better when the sun goes down, and much like she did on “Connections”, Kandi Kain steals the show. I would have loved to hear a full album from her.
Where’z Da’ Party At? – Yep. Another party themed joint. Apparently, this was also the second single from Da’ Miilkrate. Kay Gee gets his second and final production credit of the evening, as he slides our host a feel good instrumental built around a loop from Kool & The Gang’s “Too Hot”. It makes for decent filler material.
Murder Verbs – Miilk invites a few of his buddies to join him on this cipher joint. The liners notes don’t credit any of Miilk’s guests (one of them sound like one of the dudes from the Cruddy Clique), but no worries, no one says anything worthwhile. And Mufi’s instrumental is about as interesting as watching paint dry.
Fast Cash – Interlude to set up the next song…
Kids On The Ave – Miilk uses Mufi’s cinematic-tinged backdrop to share a tale about a struggling rapper who becomes a street pharmacist after being convinced by his drug dealing homeboy to enter the field. And boy does that come back to bite him. Miilk’s storyline was decent, and it was nice to hear him come with a concept and not just bar us to death.
Check Me Out – Mufi and Butch Whip hook up a melodic and mellow instrumental that Miilk uses to continue spewing random freestyle rhymes, including another ridiculously corny punchline: “Your girl rides my dick and that’s the only time I fuck up”. He also revisits the n-word, but this time delivers it as “niggies”. Sm muthafuckin’ h.
Bamma Fam – I’m not sure what this interlude is about, but, whatever.
Ketchrek – Ah, yet another song title named after a cliché mid-nineties hip-hop term, only spelled differently. I don’t know if I’d say Miilk caught wreck on this one, but he does a decent job with it. The Mufi and Butch Whip concocted instrumental is the true star on this one.
It Ain’t The Same – Decent filler material.
2 All Y’all – Mufi’s gives Miilk an emotional instrumental that he uses to rap his shout outs over. I like the instrumental, but it was kind of strange to hear our host shout out his peeps over the somber music.
Hidden Track – Miilkbone tacks on a remix to “Keep It Real” for the album’s official finale. They recycle the AZ vocal snippet from the original, but substitute the piano loop with a harp-like loop and hard-stripped down drums. Miilkbone spits all new verses and in my opinion, delivers his strongest bars of the evening. This was dope.
Miilkbone has a decent flow, but it gets a bit stunted on Da’ Miilkrate due to his poor enunciation and some outrageously corny punchline. On the other hand, our Caucasian friend has no problem enunciating “niggas” and “niggies”, as both words roll off his tongue with ease and come across loud and clear. Overall, the production on Da’ Miilkrate is a solid batch of boom-bap that Miilk uses to display his competent rhyming ability. But with no solid song concepts (with the exception of “Kids On The Ave”), Da’ Miilkrate starts to sound like one long monotonous freestyle. Da’ Miilkrate’s a decent album, but I still feel some type away about him saying “nigga”.