Black Milk (born Curtis Cross) is a famed record producer and emcee from Detroit, Michigan. Growing up, he listened to prolific acts such as A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, before becoming enamored with the sounds coming from his own city’s bubbling hip-hop scene. Fueled by his passion for beatmaking, Black Milk taught himself how to produce in his makeshift basement studio, first using a cheap drum machine and a home karaoke system before graduating to mastering the art of the MPC.
Heavily inspired by the work of J Dilla, Black Milk eventually worked with the late beatsmith’s group Slum Village, following their hearing one of his early beat tapes. Black Milk landed a production placement on Slum Village’s 2002 Dirty District compilation album and was featured on the group’s full-length, Trinity (Past, Present and Future) later that year. Along with Young RJ and Fat Ray, Black Milk formed the group B.R. Gunna, releasing Dirty District: Vol. 2 (2004) as a follow-up to Slum Village’s project of the same name.
In 2005, with his group on hiatus, Black Milk released his debut solo project, Sound of the City, Vol. 1—via his own Music House Records imprint—further experimenting with his talents as an emcee. After steadily making a name for himself as a double threat, Black Milk inked a deal with Fat Beats, releasing his sophomore solo record Popular Demand in 2007. Throughout the course of the past decade, Black Milk has consistently added to his discography as a solo artist, as well collaborating with a variety of other artists including Elzhi, RZA, Black Thought, RZA, Danny Brown, Pharoahe Monch, Royce Da 5’9″, Pete Rock, Bun B, and Jack White. In 2011, he formed the supergroup Random Axe with Guilty Simpson and the late Sean Price; the group released one eponymous project that same year. Black Milk’s most recent project The Rebellion Sessions—an all-instrumental album recorded with his backing band Nat Turner—arrived in 2016, impressively marking his seventh solo studio effort.