Milo, a 21-year-old rapper from Wisconsin, loves Dwayne Johnson. But not movie-star Dwayne Johnson. Wrestler Dwayne Johnson. “Hands down, my favorite wrestler was the Rock,” he says.” He was just everything to me and I loved the fact that he was kind of not really a good guy. He’s constantly the shit-talking character and does the good thing after sufficiently busting someone’s balls.”
This is not a recent obsession, either. From the ages of six to 18, when he was living in Saco, Maine with his father, a then-divorced and single dad, who wanted to make sure his son was “raised in a traditionally male climate.” That meant Monday Night Raw every Monday and Smackdown every Thursday in addition to all the Pay-Per-View events. It also meant a healthy dose of primarily East Coast hip-hop like the Notorious B.I.G. and Nas.
“When I was 12, I got my first rap album from my uncle and it was Illmatic,” he says. “[My uncle] told me if I listen to it enough times, I’ll understand rap completely.” The education didn’t stop there; his mom schooled on albums other ’90s classics like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and X-Clan.
This shared affinity for all things hip-hop and pro wrestling intertwines perfectly in Milo’s music and overall approach as an artist. He watched how the wrestlers carried themselves with an almost overwhelming confidence, which he says is found in everything he does today. “It’s weird to say, but you get this sense of self from watching these wild, outrageous dudes wrestle,” he says, not caring that it’s all staged. “It seemed so important to stick up for what you believed in.”
Milo brings that same energy to his live shows, admitting that anyone who’s seen him perform knows he grew up on wrestling, and several tracks on his recently dropped mixtape Cavalcade, his third release of 2013. He lets loose opener on “Geometry and Theology” and on standout “Ba’al Chiliagon Swords,” the latter of which fittingly opens with a pitch-shifted, pre-match tirade by the now-deceased Mr. Perfect.
That proudly weird stance is what makes Milo’s music so engaging, because you know there’s no bullshit; it’s just him. It’s also what helps his references to WWE heroes of old feel legit and honest, like when he proclaims “all my heroes are professional wrestlers on “Sweet Chin Music (The Fisher King’s anthem)” off this past January’s Things That Happen at Day. The track also houses references to grappling legends like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Ricky Steamboat, all while Milo reveals that he’s trying to improve his sandwich making and figure-four leg lock on the chorus.
“I know my recordings are mumblecore,” he says, acknowledging his mostly monotone delivery on record. “But anyone who has seen my live show can tell I was raised by professional wrestling.”