Bigg Milt - Unspoken (2011)

Bigg Milt

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Milton "Bigg Milt" Creagh learned the power of words at an early age. When he was a boy growing up in Chicago, his father brought a new stereo system (it was the 1970s, so it was probably one of those console units). At any rate, Creagh's father was proud of this stereo, and he did what any straight up audiophile would do - he told his kids not to touch it. Creagh did what any curious kid would do - figured out when his parents would be gone and when they would come back and spent that time playing his father's records. You know he got caught. However, his pops decided to spare the rod. Instead, he made Creagh listen to the collected speeches of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. on LP's. Those speeches light a fire in Creagh, and set him on the course to become a motivational speaker, radio personality and spoken word artist.

It is the last job description, in which Creagh assumes the identity of Bigg Milt, that brings him to the attention of SoulTrackers.   On Unspoken, Milt takes up where King and Powell - his oratorical mentors - left off. Unspoken is an apt and - in many ways - ironic title for this 10 track record. Like oratorical giants Powell and King, Bigg Milt uses his skills to say the things that people in power would rather be left unspoken.

It's clear that Bigg Milt spent a lot of time studying rhetorical technique because he knows how to use his instrument. Reciting poetry and prose can be more difficult than singing because, while the music adds a dramatic element to the piece, the speaker usually isn't beholden to the melody. That also gives the speaker a level of freedom to move from intimate conversation to sermon to assuming the identity of another character. The sonically voiced Bigg Milt handles all of these styles with ease on Unspoken. On "What's Going On" he channels a devilish character named "Dope" who travels throughout the country seeking to devour those who use drugs. The compelling song also has a video that features actor Isaiah Washington as the tempter. On "Block Party," Bigg Milt recalls those days in the 1970s when the grown folk closed the street, pulled out the grills and the stereos and had a party. Bigg Milt serves as a griot and storyteller on this funky song that celebrates how food and music served as a universal language that worked its magic across racial, class and ethnic barriers. "Lady Gold" finds Bigg Milt serving up some tough love to a daughter who disrespected her mother and the speaker's former wife. This is an especially timely message at a time when there are so many families in which the parents are separated and divorced.

Unspoken's most powerful song is - appropriately - a song about words. On that track, "The Apology," Bigg Milt becomes the angry prophet and employs a rhetorical device used so well by King. Bigg Milt contrasts the inspirational words in the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address to show how the rhetoric of the nation and its leaders often fail to live up to the ideals.

Some might find this album's title to be ironic for one more reason - Bigg Milt's not saying anything that hasn't been said before. However, just because something has been said repeatedly doesn't mean that it shouldn't' be said again, and it helps that Bigg Milt spits these self-evident truths with passion, integrity and skills. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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