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Rapper Millyz is bringing Massachusetts hip-hop to the mainstream with 'Blanco 5'

Massachusetts rapper Millyz (Courtesy Dom Bruno)
Massachusetts rapper Millyz (Courtesy Dom Bruno)

There’s a stigma within the Massachusetts hip-hop scene that once someone crosses a threshold of success, they remove themselves from their city/state. That hasn’t been the case for Cambridge’s Millyz, who has created a campaign that’s rooted locally and has made its way to the world at this point. (Millyz currently has 449,000 followers on Instagram and that number is quickly growing.) His “Blanco” series has been the anchor of his career, and now, he’s out with his new album “Blanco 5” (released May 27).

Over the years, I’ve watched the music grow through the series as well as his “SPED” projects. I remember when the track “Lessons” from “Sped 2: The Sequel” (2017) dropped ushering in a more polished sound for Millyz. Looking back, he found a formula that worked for him: cool lines over a good beat designed to make someone feel good. Fast forward to “Blanco 5,” it’s clear Millyz has found his sound. The song structure is way more potent (“Closure” sounds like it was made for radio), he has access to better production (which a lot of times comes from local producers like HumBeats) and his confidence is through the roof. Just listen to the beginning of “Ruthless” as proof. That bravado took over 10 years of work. A Boston Herald article from 2009 even began by saying, “Not even standstill traffic can stop Millyz’s hustle.”

Outside of his own music, Millyz is working to elevate the hip-hop community in Massachusetts. He’s working with hip-hop legend Jadakiss as a partner at multimedia creative collective SoRaspy. He has made it his mission to work with younger artists from the state like DTheFlyest, Gio Dee, Cousin Stizz, GNipsey, 8 Zipp, Trottie Y Gizzle, and more. Navigating the parts of the industry open to him, he has walked away with features from some of today’s national and international hip-hop stars like Dave East, Mozzy, Peezy, Fivio Foreign, Styles P, G Herbo, and others.

Millyz has carefully played middle man to the gaps in the culture by spending time with his peers, both older and younger, and all around the state. He has had his eyes open enough throughout his career to see where he can create connections. (An instance of this was featuring both Trottie Y Gizzle & 8 Zipp on “Blanco 4” even though their respective Boston communities heavily conflict with each other.)

When I asked him about his faith in Massachusetts hip-hop, Millyz said “I think that when the stars align, it’s really going to have a moment. This is technically its biggest moment ever, as far as the artists in that Top 5 bracket really making noise in the industry. But I want that to continue on to have a Top 20, a Top 30 that’s really rocking and putting numbers on the board.”

While “Blanco 5” has only been live a week, as of June 2, it was No. 29 on Apple Music’s top hip-hop/rap albums. There were a lot of moving parts to this project, so I asked Millyz which song was the toughest to put together. He answered, “The cipher cut, [‘Breakout’] which got like six different rappers on it. I had to meticulously put that together with people who I consider high-level rappers. And I had each rapper rhyme off the last words from the previous rapper so it was a little complicated to build that one.” From the storytelling, to beat production, to carefully choosing features, the 49 minutes of “Blanco 5” is Millyz best work yet and he is just catching his stride. Will this be the last of the “Blanco” series? “Honestly, I never wanted it past 5,” he said. “But this ‘Blanco’ thing is really doing good for me so, I’ll figure that out once I get the next body of work.”

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Noble Twitter Music Writer
Noble is a music writer and contributor to WBUR.

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