unspoken

Unspoken
Review by Howard Dukes, Soul Tracks

http://www.soultracks.com/review-bigg-milt-unspoken

April 2011

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.

Most of you know that I speak to more teens than anyone else in America and yet sometimes I feel like I’m talking to the wrong crowd. The more I talk to teenagers, the more I want to say to some of their parents: GROW UP. Have you noticed how we seem to have an abundance of adults who do not act their age? It’s like they still want to be teenagers. A couple of months ago, I was coming out of a Wal-Mart store and I saw this kid, maybe fourteen or fifteen years old. He had his pants sagging to the point that the crotch area of the pants was maybe two or three inches above his knees. He actually had to hold them with one hand while he walked to keep them from falling. Personally, I always chuckle when I see young brothers dressed like that. I also often wonder why their parents let them dress like that. In this case I didn’t have to wonder very long, because at the door the boy stopped and waited for his dad. I couldn’t even chuckle. His father, who was at least forty years old, was holding his pants up too. His dad had an earring in one ear, his hair was braided in cornrows and the man actually had a grill on his teeth. The only thing that kept going through my mind was, how old did this man think he was. Forty year old fathers aren’t supposed to dress like teens. Forty year old fathers aren’t supposed to act like teens. Thirty year old teachers aren’t supposed to try to date teens.

I happen to be Christian, yet you will find that every major religion says that it is the parents’ role to teach the young how to live as adults, primarily through example. If you happen to be agnostic, then a cursory look at the animal kingdom will make it clear that the adult of the species is supposed to teach survival skills to the young. The animal kingdom also shows us that often without the involvement of the adults, the young will make decisions that could lead to their death. Growing up in a tough, gang infested community, there were things I learned from my parents that helped me survive. The million dollar question is what happens to the species (us) when the adults have either lost the ability or the will to teach their young? We even have condos and housing subdivisions being designed specifically for grandparents who now have to raise their grandkids because their parents are either: strung out, incarcerated or just not interested in raising their young. WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?

goinonMy new video is out! Check it and let me know what you think. The song is What’s Goin’ On, featuring vocals by Sam Salter and starring Isaiah Washington.

Have you ever honestly wondered about this thing called honesty?  Well I have before and I still do.  Forever and a day we have said things like, honesty is the best policy.  We have often said well just tell the truth.  But what about when the truth may do more harm than good?  What about when telling someone the truth is like in the movie where Jack Nicholson says, “you can’t handle the truth”?  In this age of political correctness and spin mastery that we live in today, I really wonder if most of us can handle the truth or not.  For my part I have been guilty of thinking that others could not handle the truth and so in many cases I gloss over the truth not wanting to hurt their feelings, but then I get frustrated and sometimes upset when they can’t read between the lines and glean the truth.  How insane is that?  For me, part of my problem with the truth has been that I always want to be seen as the good guy and so I don’t want to be the bearer of really bad news, so again, I either imbed the truth in a long eloquent explanation that confuses the heck out of them or I do my famous disappearing act.  Where instead of delivering the blow of truth and candor I simply disappear.  Not to be heard from until after they have figured out the inevitable.  How dumb is that?  I had a good friend once that I lost as a friend because I didn’t want to tell her that she did a lousy job on a project I had hired her for.  I paid her, but then did not talk to her again or answer her calls or return her calls for a long time, because I didn’t want to tell her the truth about her performance.  How wrong is that.  I have friends who have stayed in unfulfilling relationships -for years -simply because they didn’t want to tell the truth about how they felt.

What do you think about this honesty thing?

Earlier today, my youngest daughter and I were having breakfast together at the local IHOP. Halfway through our meal a large family took the two tables closest to us. Clearly, they were a little different from us. Almost everyone of them had multiple tatoos. Alexis and I were dressed for church and these folks looked like they –well I don’t know what they were dressed for, but all of the men had on Nascar t-shirts. They were white and of course my daughter and I are black. All of those differences aside the thing that seemed to picked my interest the most was their conversation. Alexis and I had basically been talking about a camp she’s going to later in the summer and what movie we were planning on going to see. Our table neighbors talked a lot about people being in jail and who was not going home so they could avoid the police. One guy said he wasn’t avoiding the police because he had just finished doing all of his time. One guy kept telling another guy to drive within the speed limit so the cops wouldn’t stop him. A woman then admonished him that if the cops stopped him, they’d “pull out all of your charges”. I guess the thing that really amazed me was that they were talking about going to jail like it was no big deal. They also had a baby, still in a baby seat and one of the guys said to the baby that he too would be able to handle jail. I guess my question was, how would all of this impact the child? and how do we get to a point that criminal activity is just no big deal? Oh, and by the way before we left, we had spoken to each other and they seemed to be basically okay people. But our values were soooooooo different. All I could say was wow.

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