Mission Man’s new video just gave us the warm fuzzies

Mission Man

We haven’t been posting as much lately, I know. What can I say? Life shit. But when our old Ohio hip-hop pal Mission Man tweeted us his latest video, we just had to share it with you folks out there in Readerland. (By the way, don’t panic: Mission Man did not die in 2012. That’s just a copyright date range in the above graphic. He’s alive and well and still rockin’ the mic.)

MM’s vid for “Love, Funk and Soul” makes us happy, and not just because it features more cowbell. Mainly, it gives us a case of the warm fuzzies because it proves what we’ve long suspected, but seen precious little evidence of: Mission Man has fans. In the clip, they can be seen taking selfies with him, partying with him, throwing snowballs at him, and, at around the 1:08 mark, getting up onstage and dancing with him. Dude’s grind is definitely starting to pay off. Let this be an inspiration to us all.

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Holy crap! Mission Man is now rockin’ it out with a live band.

Mission Man
Photo by Anita Herald

It’s been awhile since we heard anything from our favorite white Ohio rapper (sorry, Machine Gun Kelly), so we were tickled silly to discover that not only is our man Gary “Mission Man” Milholland still out there on his grind—now he’s doing it with company! Yep, Mission Man now has (for some gigs, at least) a full backing band. Watch your back, Roots!

We don’t have the full details yet, but apparently The Mish has even recorded a live album with said backing band and plans to release it later this year. It will be called RnR Playdate after the open mic night in Fairborn, Ohio where this crew, The RnR Playdaters, serve as the house band. Even before I knew about the whole open-mic element, I was sure these tattooed bros would take Mission Man’s defiantly weird music and turn it into bar-band dreck, but they actually stay pretty true to the herky-jerky rhythms and random slap basslines of the original material. They throw a gratuitous guitar solo in there, too, but Gary’s obviously loving it and hey, if he’s happy, we’re happy.

More news on Mission Man, his new posse and RnR Playdate as soon as we have it.

Mission Man’s new video is “Extra” awesome

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Last time we checked in with our avant-hip-hop hero Mission Man, he had decided to finally quit his day job to pursue music full-time. Now it’s three months later and he’s…well, he’s back to the working grind again, but not to worry. The new job is just part-time and as he puts it on his website, “music is a bigger, more beautiful part of my life than it’s ever been!” So Mission Man’s, er, mission to bring “hip-hop without ego” to the masses continues apace.

Last week, Gary “Mission Man” Milholland released his latest opus: A brand-new video for the pep-talk track “Extra” off his most recent album, M”. In true MM fashion, the clip features all sorts of zany composite shots of Mission Man dancing on flowers and planets and flying away in his Chevy Cobalt, plus some scenes of him busting moves in some shitty sports bar that probably doesn’t deserve him, and a whole sequence involving footprints in the snow that hopefully he can explain to us over a beer someday. But our favorite part of the whole video is probably the part where he looks directly into the camera and raps, “You look extra today: Extra tall, extra smart, extra talented, extra sexy, extra amazing.” Back atcha, Gary!

In other Mission Man news, he recently performed a new track, “Love, Funk and Soul,” with a live band. He’s taking this shit to the next level, y’all!

Mission Man embarks on his “I Quit My Job (please don’t make me go back)” tour

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When we first encountered Gary “Mission Man” Milholland back in 2011, he was a struggling underground rapper who delivered pizzas by day and spit rhymes by night. But now it’s 2013 and guess what, bitches? He’s rapping full time! Well-played, Gary. It’s success stories like yours that give us hope for weird and misunderstood artists everywhere.

In addition to honing his mic skills at, he promises, “5 open mike shows per week, plus hopefully a full show or two each week, as well,” The Mish is embarking on some January and March (not February, for some reason) tour dates. He’s dubbed his little eight-city jaunt the “I Quit My Job (please don’t make me go back)” tour. It starts on Jan. 19th, his birthday. So buy the man some cake, Dayton.

Jan 19     Blind Bob’s         Dayton, OH
Jan 20     One Eyed Jack’s     Fairborn, OH
Jan 21     Southgate House Revival Newport, KY
Jan 22     Stadium Bar and Grille     Oxford, OH
Jan 23     Scarlet and Grey Cafe     Columbus, OH
Jan 24     King Avenue 5         Columbus, OH
Mar 09     Southgate House Revival Newport, KY
Mar 14     Annabell’s         Akron, OH
Mar 16     Checkers N Trophies     Kent, OH

Here’s hoping Mission Man becomes enough of a force in 2013 that he can finally play the West Coast. As much as we enjoy his YouTube videos, something tells us you really need to see the man live to fully appreciate his unorthodox approach to beats and rhymes.

Weird Album Review: Mission Man, “M””

It’s been about a month since Gary “Mission Man” Milholland sent us one of the 100 CD copies of his 11th (11th!) album, M”. Jake and I have been fighting ever since over who should review it—because honestly, neither of us wanted to do it. I mean, what are we supposed to do? Tell you it sucks? Tell you it’s the work of a misunderstood genius? Tell you it’s both those things?

Here’s the thing about Mission Man: His approach to hip-hop (and yes, it’s fair to call what he does hip-hop, even if bears little resemblance to the shit they play on mainstream rap radio) values self-expression over art. Or, maybe more accurately, the self-expression is the art. Mission Man sounds like no one else not because he sucks (which is what most people think when they first hear him), but because he’s just being who he is—and he’s a self-taught white rapper/musician from rural Ohio with no real interest in molding himself to the mainstream. “I don’t need validation from the masses,” he raps on album opener “Open Mic,” over a lurching, clattering beat that may as well as be telling the masses to go fuck themselves. (Except that The Mish never, ever swears—so maybe it’s just politely telling the masses this might not be their jam.) Plenty of rappers love to drop verses about the many obstacles they’ve had to overcome—but with Mission Man, those obstacles include his own inability or unwillingness to make palatable music.

They also include all the pitfalls that come from being a totally D.I.Y. musician with limited funds and an even more limited fan base. Even though most of Mission Man’s songs are beamingly positive on their surface (with titles like “I Can Feel the Love,” “Wonder Years,” “It’s Good to Be Back,” etc.), they’re all shot through with the pain and sadness of someone who’s suffered more than his fair share of rejection and loneliness. The love in “With Love We Find Hope” is the kind of love that saves you after you’ve been “punched in the face”; the idyllic childhood in “Wonder Years” is contrasted with an adulthood in which “we started to want too much.” and in which all Mission Man wants is to “live today like I’m a kid, OK?” But you get the sense that he doesn’t quite succeed.

Musically, it’s not all the tuneless noodling of a self-taught outsider. “I Can Feel the Love” adds a little dubstep whomp to the chorus; “Livin'” features wah-wah guitar and a full-on disco beat, although it does eventually dissolve into a chaotic mess of noisy piano runs. This is still a Mission Man album, after all.

The most striking song on the album is “Wonder Years,” in no small part because it’s a cappella: Stripped of his quirky instrumentation, and without a beat to follow, Mission Man’s lyrics get to stand on their own, and in places, they’re startlingly beautiful: “There were no sad truths to get in the way/There wasn’t hope, I didn’t need it/I already lived like I was dreaming.” If Mission Man’s palpable desire to return to that carefree childhood (real or imagined? who cares?) doesn’t tug at your heartstrings a little, your heart might be in need of a tuneup.

Mish ends the album with “Extra,” a song about how a casually offered compliment can turn around your whole day. “You look extra today,” goes the chorus. “Extra tall, extra smart, extra talented, extra sexy, extra amazing.” And in this live clip shot last month, extra smooth, if we do say so. Gary’s got some new dance moves!

You can pick up M” in Mission Man’s online store for just $10 for the CD or $5 for the download. Buy a copy and you’ll make him feel extra amazing. You might even feel kind of amazing yourself.

Mission Man is hitting the road (and Kickstarter)

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Brace yourselves, Chicagoans: Mission Man is coming your way, and he is gonna blow your freakin’ minds. Even in the city that gave the world Common, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, they might not be ready for hip-hop this far off the grid.

For those of you new to these parts: Mission Man is Gary Milholland, a mild-mannered pizza delivery guy from Oxford, Ohio who onstage transforms himself into a rhyme-dropping ball of WTF. Even though his stuff is technically hip-hop, he probably has less in common with Kanye and Common than he does with another legendary Windy City denizen: Wesley Willis. Except The Mish isn’t black or schizophrenic and, as far as we know, is not prone to head-butting his fans. So on second thought, scratch the Wesley Willis comparison. Let’s just call him a true original and leave it at that.

In addition to his big Chi-town gig (tix available here), Mission Man is also playing multiple shows all over his home state all summer long. If you happen to be in the Buckeye State, catch him if you can. He’s by far the wackiest thing that place has produced since DEVO.

May 30    Mickey Finn’s Pub    Toledo, OH
Jun 08    Blind Bob’s    Dayton, OH
Jun 14    ELBO ROOM    Chicago, IL
Jun 23    Relay for Life    Oxford, OH
Jun 30    Symposium    Lakewood, OH
Jul 01    Scarlet and Grey Cafe    Columbus, OH
Aug 10    Greenwich Tavern    Cincinnati, OH

In other Mission Man news: You have just 13 days left to back his Kickstarter campaign, which will fund the release of his 11th studio album, M” (yes, with one quotation mark—even his titles are outside the box). Pony up, people! He’s only asking for $700, for Christ’s sake. As a pizza guy in a college town, he probably makes that much during finals week.

Watch the new Mission Man documentary, “Do What You Love”

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I have to be honest: When I first heard that someone had made a documentary about Gary “Mission Man” Milholland, I was really hoping it would suck, because I was jealous that someone beat us to the punch. Actually, it’s surprising it took this long. Given the success of other documentaries about struggling outsider musicians (Anvil! The Story of Anvil, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, etc., etc.), Milholland and his defiantly weird brand of homemade hip-hop is practically begging to be the next great cause célèbre of the film festival circuit.

I’m not sure Lawrence Kim’s 30-minute day-in-the-life snapshot of Mission Man is going to be the toast of Sundance or anything, but it does not suck. In fact, it’s really, really good. Damn you, Kim! We’ll have to set our sights on making the first documentary about Dwarr now instead.

Kim’s doc, very fittingly titled Do What You Love, can be watched in its entirety on the film’s Facebook page. Or you can peep the first nine minutes of it below. It might not make you a fan of Mission Man’s music—you either “get it” or you don’t, and most people don’t—but if it doesn’t make you a fan of Gary Milholland, then you probably have no soul.