For 2014: Milli Mars

a4061242399_10I’m not sure if everything is really bigger in the state of Texas, but I do know that San Antonio has a hidden gem in hip-hop artist Milli Mars. Thanks to a friend in the Austin area who hipped me to his music, I first learned of Mars in 2011 when I heard his second musical venture YMID, and was essentially blown away. Not that I am one to generalize, but the project didn’t sound very…Texan. Nevertheless, it stayed in rotation. Once I went back to the proverbial lab and listened to his debut, BrainwashedI knew that this was an artist I needed to keep an eye and ear out for.

After dropping only one track in 2012, “Au Revoir,” Mars came back in 2013 with a shorter, but equally dope release, The Toyotomi EP. Only seven tracks long and with support from Gianni Lee and Babylon Cartel, The Toyotomi EP has a much different sound than YMID, as the production, entirely from whizKIDDA (who also produced all of YMID and Brainwashed), at least appears to be a bit more focused. While the listener doesn’t enjoy the diversity heard on YMID, they will enjoy the layers of “Tokyo Noir” and the thumping drums of “Red Alert ’87.” “Hattori Hanzo” is my second-favorite track on the EP, and the bassline is seemingly perfect, although it arguably could have done without the bridges. The combination of drums and almost eerie bassline on the second half of “Battle of So-Chon,” along with the intermittent vocals, make it my favorite on The Toyotomi EP.

I’m sure that Milli Mars has more in store for us in 2014, and I hope he can build off of The Toyotomi EP. Regardless of commercial success, I know he has a buzz in Texas and assumingly, some sects of the south. It’s not enough to support artists in your area; the underground is the underground. Whether or not Mars or his fans consider him to be a part of the underground doesn’t matter. If Mars makes his way to the Midwest or I happen to be on my vagabond shit in the state of Texas, I’ll be sure to check him out if I can. I implore you to do the same. In the meanwhile, check out his music and thank me later.

Album Review: YMID, Milli Mars.

While I promised to have this review up a few days ago, I got a bit sidetracked by Chocolate Thai, vodka and Ali. However, I’m no longer distracted…for now.

About a week ago, during a conversation with Oscar and Martina, the latter of whom is originally from Houston but now lives in Chicago, the topic of Southern rappers came up. Scarface and the Geto Boys, OutKast, T.I., Ludacris, Big KRIT, et cetera. Martina mentioned that her younger sister had been hearing of someone relatively new to the scene. Milli Mars, a rapper from San Antonio, was the aforementioned newbie. YMID is his debut release. Read on…

The album starts with “One Day”, featuring Emma Diaz. She slowly sings over a rather serene-sounding beat, and upon first hearing it, you’d think it was an introduction to an uptempo R&B album. Milli Mars does not appear on this track and I actually think that it was a wise choice; Diaz’s smooth voice was more than enough to hold it down. “YMID” follows the opener and Mars begins the song, spitting, “My mind’s fucked/I need some sanctuary…”. As someone who is admittedly a little crazy herself, I loved this. Little did I know that those seven words would essentially set the tone for the rest of the album. The production on this one is nuts, which complements Mars’ flow. The same can be said about the production on “God’s Hand”, featuring Chris Conde. The sound is a little eerie, and Conde’s vocals at the end make the track even eerier.

While the first three tracks were collectively okay, “FDR” grabbed ahold of my ears and wouldn’t let go. The beat took me back to my raving, E-popping high school days and Mars seemed to assert himself a bit more, lyrically. “Now peep, see how they livin’/And I ain’t fightin’ over no pussy like Scott Pilgrim”, Mars spit. Referencing Scott Pilgrim, my favorite movie and comic book character of all-time, will always get love from me. “U Ain’t Sayin’ Nuthin'” follows this, and the lyrics tell any half-hearted listener exactly that. It took a few listens, but I now like “WHATTHEFUC”, featuring See-Saw and “Mafia In Dubai”. The former is, well, loud with rather subdued lyrics by Mars. It sounds a bit more like a party record than most of the other tracks, and that is mainly because of See-Saw on the hook and “final words”. See-Saw kind of sounds like a rattier, more Westernized version of M.I.A. Nothing about the lyrics on the latter track stood out to me, but the beat and chick intermittently halfway moaning got my ears’ attention.

“Some Of These Girls” is easily the sexiest sounding track on YMID. Mars goes into detail about some of the women in his life, painting a vivid picture of one particular dame and what she looks like up against the wall while…you know. His friend even calls to warn that one of his bed mates knows that they “roll cream” and Mars responds by rapping that he’ll have to defuse the situation by grabbing the “4-4”.

After the completely unnecessary “Pussy Interlude” comes the equally unnecessary “Pussy”. Don’t get me wrong. I love pussy so very, very much. I even love the word, but when it’s repeated about 1283982793 times, it loses its sexiness. What makes “Pussy” even worse is the wack ass meowing in the background. If you download this album, skip both of these tracks. Better yet, delete them.

Luckily, Mars recovers with “The Alarm”. I posted its video on this page after watching it 22 times straight on YouTube. Once again, maniacal production accompanies Mars equally maniacal flow. The video is strange and the song does it injustice, in fact. I suggest you watch the video to get the full effect of the song. “Wasted all day/Killing all the Capulets” is how “Holly” starts. “Holly” appears to be a woman Mars has lost, but everything is so loud, I can barely understand what Mars is saying. That’s all I can remember, besides the rock-themed beat and perfect hook, screamed by a female while the production is almost absent. It is beautifully grungy, though. I could listen to this song forever and a day simply because of the hard ass sound.

“Control” tackles political issues, and begins with clips of people opining on the shitty ways of politicians on both sides. You can even hear Bill O’Reilly’s bitch ass whining about the “smear tactics” of the left. While Mars is no Talib or Mos Def in terms of political consciousness, the listener can’t help but think that if we were to band together, there’s no way the government could “control” us. “Democracy” is a technical term, according to Mars. After going in a completely different direction from the rest of the album on “Control”, Mars jumps back into the fray with “Nov. 2nd”. This beat is my favorite on YMID and I’d go as far as saying the track is my favorite as well. The 5-star rating came out quickly for this one, and this track alone makes the entire album halfway decent.

YMID comes to an end with “NIOSA”. Besides what I’m sure is something in Spanish being repeated in the background at a high pitch, this is the most normal-sounding track on the album. While I wish he would’ve ended the album the way he started it; with Diaz doing her version of crooning over a calming beat, I actually liked “NIOSA”. He pays homage to his hometown and admonishes “watered down music”, the latter of which I absolutely loathe.

Lyrically, Milli Mars certainly isn’t the greatest. I don’t think that’s his objective, though. For some reason, I find Southern rappers to be a bit more unique than the rest of their counterparts. They seem to be a bit more willing to reach outside of the box to express themselves artistically, and by YMID‘s production alone (Whiz Kidda of The Whiz Kids), this is the case with Mars. For a debut release, Mars and his listeners should be pleased. He’s got some refining to do, but YMID  will definitely stay in rotation on my iTunes.

Download: “YMID”, Milli Mars (Prod. By Whiz Kidda)

Video

VID: “The Alarm”, Milli Mars

HOLY FUCK ME GOOD. A friend who’s originally from Houston and Mr. Crassidy hipped me to Milli Mars, a rap artist from San Antonio. “The Alarm” is a single from his debut album, YMID, and while I’ve only heard 5 tracks to this point, I can tell by the sound of them that I’ll love the rest of his rookie release. This video is beyond sick and resembles a scary movie, all the way until the 3:40 mark, which is the end of the video. I can’t wait to listen to the rest of YMID, and will definitely have a review up once I awaken from my deep, reefer-induced sleep.