When your given initials spell out the word “RAP,” is a stage name really necessary? For New England emcee Rory Allen Phillip Ferreira, doing so would have once been too obvious a choice, smacking of predestination. Instead, he’s spent the last decade writing himself into narratives of his own creation. Since the release of his 2011 mixtape I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here, Ferreira has operated under a variety of names: Black Orpheus, Scallops Hotel and (most notably) Milo.
Ferreira’s best known for the latter name, taken after the protagonist of Norton Juster’s 1961 novel The Phantom Tollbooth, a surreal children’s book that follows an apathetic boy’s journey through a dream world of introspection and wordplay. It’s an apt analogy for the work Ferreira — a former philosophy student at Wisconsin’s St. Norbert College — has released to date. Milo records tend to delve into abstraction, inspecting literary allusions and Skyrim references under the lens of literary theory. If it weren’t for their woozy, Jazz-inflected instrumentals, records like who told you to think??!!?!?!?! and so the flies won’t come would read as both post-modern poetry and lecture, their cryptic and meta-referential lyrics ripe for online interpretation by fans.
In 2018, Ferreira announced that he would retire the Milo moniker with his latest LP, budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies — a titled clipped from the tracklist of his debut album. “With 7 years of urban shamanism under my belt I no longer seek the story of the adventurer, I seek the experience,” reads the record’s Bandcamp page.
Signifying a fresh start and the start of a new decade, Milo shed his pseudonym to become R.A.P. Ferreira. Purple moonlight pages, his first album under his given name (find it on your favorite digital platform here), dropped March 6. If the two singles we’ve heard are any indication of what’s to come, it’s some of Ferreira’s best-edited and most personal work to date, containing amorphous instrumentals and revelations divined in gas station bathrooms.
No matter the name, though, Ferreira’s signature poetic tics and wit are as present as ever. It’s just another signifier. As the man himself raps, “Hip Hop is so trivial/But we argue about who can do it better/Like we're not all rearranging the same 26 letters.”
R.A.P. Ferreira's Cincinnati date at Urban Artifact on Friday, March 13 will also feature local DJ/producer Juan Cosby, who is touring with Nashville Hip Hop artist Spoken Nerd. Tickets are $14 in advance and available at cincyticket.com.