RAP Ferreira (formerly known as Milo, among other things), is one of the most boundary-pushing lyricists to ever touch a mic. Hailing from Chicago and Minnesota, but based out of LA for awhile now, Ferreira joined up with Busdriver and Open Mike Eagle on Hellfyre Club. Already heavily influenced by these artists for their esoteric lyrics and jazzy sentiments, it was a perfect environment for him to hone his craft. Over the course of the 10’s, he built a stellar discography under the name Milo (most notably 2015’s So the Flies Don’t Come) with deeply obscure references, a massive vocabulary, and philosophical themes. It was often difficult to form a full picture of his concepts; Even with the gratification of picking up on a few bars, you are swallowed into a world of dizzying, nebulous raps. In 2019, he linked with prolific underground producer Kenny Segal for the stellar Purple Moonlight Pages under his new name RAP Ferreira. This project brought a honed and mature tone to his music (discussing family, the industry, and his own mental state in direct terms), along with more digestible rapping. His newest project, The Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures, is a more out of the box listen which applies this new lyrical style to great success.
With every exhale, I escape wretchedness
The road to hell is piloted with compliance
Morongo Indian, Mofongo simmering
My uncle ain’t no simian
More citizens, scuff black dookies
Dorner vs. Tookie
The production on Diamond Cutter Scriptures maintains the jazzy, coffee shop vibe of Purple Moonlight Pages, but is a bit more minimal and risk taking. The beats are all notably sparse – often only a sample or melody over the drums at a time – without ever coming across as ominous or dark. There is an inviting tone to them, beckoning you into the warmth and comfort where you might get back to your studies with this great orator. The light saxophones and dancing keys inspire an openness to growth and learning. While the beats might be simple, they are never generic or devoid of talent; Rather, they simply accomplish the minimal and homey vibe Ferreira demands. Additionally, there are some less traditional songwriting choices sprinkled in, such as instrumental refrains and quirky intro/outros. It works better than last year’s Bob’s Son, which, while a good album, often got lost in its own abstraction and strange song structures. Here, there is a better balance since Ferreira has more substantial verses and the beats are more straightforwardly jazz.
My advice for life would be to laugh and listen,
Simple hillbilly in the city like Jack Whitten
Tryna barter at Guitar Center, Sixteen bars is warm dinner
What has always separated Milo lyrically is how he provokes deeper thought through such wit and esotericism. Every single bar has some clever imagery, wordplay, or obscure reference which makes you chuckle or wonder. For example, he refers to a pink truck as “same color Peppa Pig”, or how he will bring Atlas a tissue if he needs to sneeze. Ferreira’s flow is unique as well. Always rather lowkey, he keeps it a bit choppy across each line, clearly inspired by slam poetry. This man has always been a student of many artforms and spheres, applying it to his own work for something strange and beautiful. When they all come together, however, it also becomes difficult to make out what it all means. Through the hooks and skits, we find that Ferreira is continuing his persona as a sort of wandering poet who has dedicated his life to the craft and ascended because of it. One skit on “Gemilut Hashadim” narrates how famous painter Jackson Pollock created such a revolutionary, post modern artform, only to abandon it and pass away as an alcoholic. Ferreira also drops one liner’s about how he will rap forever and there is a God in all of us, proving his passion for the craft and how we can actualize through art. The same principles of Pollocks art – messy and unclear parts which evoke greater emotion – are applied in Ferreira’s raps. Each bar is a separate paint drip, coming together to create something odd and abstract which is hardly hiphop at all; But each stroke, each allusion, holds power and pours from his heart to our canvas.