Half an hour outside of Downtown Miami, Maximiliano Cohan pulls up to the parking lot of the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall in Sunrise, Florida around noon. He’s not quite stressed, but definitely focused: Max is making the most out of his Friday lunch break by doing an interview with HipHopMyWay, and he’s not looking to waste any time. Already on FaceTime by the time he pulls up, we chat casually as he grabs a bowl from Chipotle and finds a seat.
Dressed in modest work attire, those sitting around Max might not get the impression that he’s a artist poised to make a name for himself in the hip-hop industry, but clout isn’t exactly a priority for him at the moment. For him, all that matters now is making sure his debut mixtape is exactly how it should be. Set to release in the following weeks, Leopard County will be Max’s first official project released since amassing a considerable fan base online. He releases music under the moniker Miliano, a name you might be hearing a lot more of in the near future.
HipHopMyWay: All right. So, who are you? Just tell us about yourself.
Miliano: So my name is Miliano… No, my name is Max, I go by the alias Miliano, and I’m first generation American-Latino. I was born in Harlem, lived in New York until I was 2 years old, then I went to my parents’ country, Uruguay, lived there for a year, and then we went back to New York. Then I moved to Miami at five years old, and I lived in Miami basically my whole life.
HHMW: Why were you moving around so much?
Miliano: My dad’s job.
HHMW: Word. How’d you get into music?
Miliano: I think I’ve always been into music. Growing up in a Latin family, it was always just around. My grandfather was an actor at a theater, and my grandmas used to sing all the time, so I’ve kind of had music in me. I always used to sing as a kid, but It wasn’t really until I was like 10, 12 years old that I really started getting into music, and it’s because I started playing the guitar. Me, my brother, and this kid that lived in our neighborhood, Jeremy, started a little band. We were trying to be like the Jonas Brothers. We would just do covers of like songs by, like, Simple Plan, Sum 41, and just perform wherever we could, just try to get gigs. That was kind of like, my intro to music, and that was like 10, 12 years old.
HHMW: So what kind of music do you make now?
Miliano: I would describe my music as a blend of hip-hop and R&B with clear Latino rhythms in it. So, I guess like, Latino hip-hop R&B… But it’s all in English. But the basis of it is so Latin-based, and melodically it’s very Latin-based, rhythmically Latin-based… So yeah, Latin-based hip-hop and R&B.
HHMW: So who would you think that your audience is, or will be in the future? And can you compare your sound to anyone else in the game right now?
Miliano: I don’t know if I can compare it to anybody in the game right now. I would say the closest thing to it is… (pauses) I love the way Santana used to structure his music, and I don’t think it sounds anything like it now, but that is really like, when I listen to music that I’m like, “alright. This is what I want to learn from and pick up from,” it’s that, it’s Santana. The thing with Santana is he would play the guitar and have other people come in and sing, but the way he would have people come in on his songs is the way I like to come in on mine, and structure mine. So, I guess Santana. And Lauryn Hill.
HHMW: Who would you say your audience is, or the people most likely to be messing with your stuff?
Miliano: S**t, I don’t even know. Honestly, I feel like I make music for everyone. Meeting with managers, and like, A&Rs, that’s always something they ask me, and it’s always been really hard for me to give an answer.
HHMW: Well that’s a great answer.
Miliano: Thank you.
HHMW: Who are some of your favorite artists, music or otherwise?
Miliano: Right now I love Kanye, I love X, R.I.P. I love Young Thug. I love this new Teyana Taylor album, I’m obsessed with it. I mean, besides music artists, I don’t really pay attention to any other kind of artist, just because I haven’t really gotten into it yet. But Future, Frank Ocean… And that’s it.
HHMW: Where are you at now? Both physically, like location-wise, but also mentally and career-wise?
Miliano: So physically, I’m in Miami right now, I’m living here; I have a job for the summer. Mentally… Mentally, I’m at a place where it’s kind of like, I’m 21 years old and I’m realizing s**t isn’t as easy as you might think. I was in L.A. a couple of weeks ago, and it was my first time there, and I went to L.A. to meet with managers and A&Rs. I went with this mindset where it was kind of like, “Alright. I’m getting signed, whatever. My music’s fire, everybody in Miami likes it…” And then you meet so many people there that are doing the exact same s**t, and you realize that everything is so relative. Maybe in Miami I stand out, but you go to L.A., and there’s a thousand people that are the same exact person as you. It kind of puts you in a realization where you’re like, “Alright, you need to start outworking people,” and this s**t’s not easy.
So, mentally, I feel like I’m at a leveling-up stage where I’m just maturing and realizing how much hard work it really takes to succeed in general, but mainly in the music industry. In my music career, I’m about to release my first video, my first project, and I’m currently in the studio with… I don’t know if I could say, but I’ll tell you… But they’re big producers.
HHMW: Word, we’ll keep that off the record.
Miliano: Alright, alright, yeah.
HHMW: So where are we going to see you in five years?
Miliano: Alright, so in five years… It’s 2018, 2023… At 26 years old, I see myself at the top of the music game. Not only with my own music, but working with other artists, because it’s always been a passion of mine to see authenticity in others and try to give them my piece of advice, and helping them. I love hearing music from underground artists in Miami, and just listening to it like, 20 times in a row, and being like, “what would I change?”. It’s crazy, ’cause I do that to my own music, and I don’t even know what I would change, not because it’s perfect, but just because it’s so hard for me… But when I listen to other people’s, it’s just a natural thing that I’m like… (pauses) Not what would I change, because that’s also something I hate, when people are like, “I don’t like this, I don’t like that.” I’m so against people not liking something when someone’s just pouring their heart out… But more, “what could you do better,” like, post-production-wise, because I’ve gotten really into the mixing and mastering process. That’s just been something I’m really into.
— Miliano (@2020Miliano) February 4, 2018
HHMW: Dope. So, how do you source the production on your tracks, and do you have any favorite producers?
Miliano: So I reach out to a lot of people through Instagram. Every day, I’ll just be hitting up producers being like “yo, these are these are my songs, let me know if you have anything that sounds like this.” Recently, in the past three months is when people started really sending me things, because I feel like I now finally have attention. It’s not big attention, but the attention I have gives producers a reason for them to work with me. But also, just YouTube. It sounds dumb, but honestly, the whole “type beats” movement is a game changer. I’ve found so many producers that now I’ve become friends of online.
One in particular is from Colombia. He’s the most underrated producer in the world, and his name is Case G. I don’t know how I found him, but I’ve been saying for a while that my favorite style of production includes a Latin guitar and just f**king with that, and he just does it better than anyone I’ve ever seen, and he’s on YouTube. He’s in Columbia, we’re in contact, and we’re just working. So he’s my favorite.
HHMW: Some might call you successful based on what you have out and the stats behind it, while others might disagree with that. In today’s music industry, what do you think success means, and what does that look like?
Miliano: Success, to me, is so relative. What might seem successful to me seven months ago now could be like, “Alright, that was what’s supposed to happen,” and what may seem successful to me may seem like a joke to someone who’s already in the music scene. I was in the studio the other day, and this kid was just mentioning how he has 10,000 plays on a song on SoundCloud, and how it was this whole big deal. Everyone was like, “bro, good s**t,” getting hyped up… And I remember two days before that, I was complaining to my boy about how I need better promotion and how I need to get my music out there, because this song that I have out that has like, 10,000 plays isn’t doing well.
So the point is, success is relative. What’s success to me right now? I think, in music, if you’re able to be creating music every day and doing it as a passion and as something you love, and you’re making income that allows you to do this full-time and makes you feel okay with your life, you’re successful. So I guess, once you’re making the amount of money where you could support yourself through music, you’ve succeeded.
HHMW: Do you consider yourself to be a SoundCloud rapper? And how do you feel about that term overall?
Miliano: Technically, I started on SoundCloud, so yeah… But I think the term comes from jealousy and envy. It’s like the same way people call mumble rappers mumble rappers. People don’t feel secure with themselves until they label something. Once they label something, they put their own opinion on it. SoundCloud rappers: first people that come to mind are like Lil Pump, Ski Mask, I guess X… But, most notably, I would say like Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, people that they tend to hate on.
My thoughts on the term is just like… I just feel like it’s a way for people to downgrade rappers who don’t tend to go to the lyrical side, but instead choose to just be more like based on a vibe and melodies. They just call them SoundCloud rappers to put them down, so I don’t like the term, but I don’t know. I guess it really depends on who’s saying it, but I feel like it really is a negative thing and that’s the point of it… So I don’t like it, and I definitely don’t think I’m a “SoundCloud rapper”.
HHMW: Do you have a favorite song of your own?
Miliano: I have my favorite song that’s not out yet, but that’s out… My favorite song is “La Diabla”. Why is because that was the first song I made with Case G, who was the producer I mentioned. Something about the guitar in that song allowed me to speak in a way where it was so raw, it was so easy. I made that s**t in like 1, 2 hours just because like, I couldn’t stop ’til I was done. It was just such a flow. Every time I listen to it, I remember the feeling and it just… I don’t know, it makes me feel some type of way. It was dope.
HHMW: As an independent artist, how do you feel about signing to a major label in the future? And if you did, what label would you be interested in signing to?
Miliano: Okay, so, this is something I talk about a lot with my friends, and just in general. I was just in L.A. and I met with several A&Rs from three different labels, like major labels, and I don’t think signing to a label is completely necessary. Obviously, it helps having a machine behind you pushing all your music, having a team pay for your studio time, whatever. But the negative about it is the whole part of like…(pauses) You know, being an artist is creative freedom, and anytime you have any constraints in your art, I feel like it just makes it so much more difficult because the whole point of being an artist is just freedom to express however you want. So, I mean, it has his positives and negatives. Obviously, if you’re in a position where you need an advance, and it’s your only way out of a situation you’re in, I 100 percent think it’s a good idea, but I think nowadays, if you could do it yourself, if you have the backing, if you have the right investments, I don’t think you need it. But as far as signing to one, I guess in the future, if the right opportunity comes, I wouldn’t be opposed.
HHMW: What’s the music scene in Miami look like right now, in terms of hip-hop and overall?
Miliano: So, up until three years ago, there was a really small underground hip-hop scene in Miami with like, Raider Klan… You have people like Rob Bank$, Pouya, Spaceghostpurp, Fat Nick, Denzel Curry, Yung Simmie. About two, three years ago, they were the only things really coming out of the hip-hop scene. Besides that, it was all EDM and reggaeton. They really pushed that scene into the underground. The main stream studios and the nicer studios were too expensive for people like that to go work. Once they started popping off, then came the Smokepurpps, and the Lil Pump, and XXXTentacion… Ski Mask… They blew up the scene here and gave it this… (pauses) You know, Florida has a negative connotation in the media: it’s like, crazy, and s**t goes wrong here, like the guy who ate someone’s face, And I feel like a lot of people relate the music to that. But how do I feel about it now? I feel like me and the people I’ve been working with are a side of it that is more artistically inclined, and not so based on feel. I think where it’s going is up, and I think in like two or three years it’s going to be an Atlanta, New York, L.A… But then there’s people like Icy Narco, who are just kind of like adding on to the bad rep that it has. I really don’t understand how someone like him gets so much attention, when people like Yung Simmie and Rob Bank$, who are actual musicians who study the game and have been doing this for so long, aren’t getting as much recognition as him. But I don’t know, I think it has a bad rep right now, but it’s on the come-up in a really good way.
HHMW: Dope, that’s good to hear. Who in the industry right now is someone that you would most like to work with?
Miliano: Obvious ones are like Kanye, Santana, Lauryn Hill… (pauses) I’m more into working with producers to be honest.
HHMW: Name some of the producers that you be interested in working with.
Miliano: Scott Storch would be an absolute dream I think. What’s his name, that produces for Chief Keef… Young Chop. Young Chop, 100 percent. Obviously like, all the Atlanta producers, but then, Scott Storch, Young Chop, Ronnie Jay, them three, mainly.
HHMW: So how’d you feel about this year’s XXL Freshman Class? Did you have a favorite, and was there anyone that you wish would have made that didn’t?
Miliano: I like it. I feel like everybody tends to hate on it, but what’s crazy is, I saw a poll the other day about what was your favorite Freshman Class, and the year Yachty and Kodak [won] was number one… And I remember when that year came out, everybody was like, “yo, f**k this”, “there’s no lyricists”, “it’s all mumble”… I don’t know, a lot of people hate on XXL, but you can’t say they get it wrong, you know? If you go back every year, besides like 2015, like, everybody from the list besides that one year is huge now. So this year, I like it. I think everybody who’s there completely deserves it. I don’t know much about Stefflon Don, but from what I’ve read, she deserved it. Who do I wish was there? Lil Baby… But I saw an interview on The Breakfast Club of Vanessa, the lady who runs XXL, she’s editor in chief, and her reasoning made sense… So I guess a Lil Baby and 6ix9ine, but I get. I get why they weren’t chosen; I liked the list.
HHMW: Last question: do you think we will see Tha Carter V this year? Birdman has claimed it, but we don’t know.
Miliano: So like I grew up… Lil Wayne’s the first person to get me into rap… You want me to say a funny story, actually?
HHMW: Go for it.
Miliano: Alright. So I grew up on like Simple Plan, Sum 41 and like, Latin music. I didn’t really understand rap up until like, middle school. In like 4th grade or some s**t, I was like, the worst kid in my class; I was always going in trouble. So my teacher was like, “yo, we’re going to pair you up with this kid who’s coming from Hurricane Katrina. He said he’s going to be here for a couple of months, you have to be his friend,” I was like sure, whatever. It’s part of what happens when you get in trouble. I end up becoming boys with this kid. We’re always together in school. Then one day, he shows me a video of Lil Wayne, this song “Fireman”, and he’s like, “This is my brother”. I didn’t know who Lil Wayne was, I didn’t even care, I was just like, “oh shit, this is kind of cool.” I was into rock, and Lil Wayne kind of blended rock and rap, so I was like, “wait, this is fire.” I Didn’t even understand who was talking to, which was Birdman’s son, by the way, Bryan Williams Jr., up until I was way older and was like, “wow, that’s so f**king crazy.” But, he got me into rap, which is so wild because I didn’t even know who he was at that time, and he showed me it in a light where it was so humble, like, “yo give it a shot.” So Lil Wayne’s always been special to me, because he’s like the first rapper I’ve ever f**ked with. I really want Tha Carter V to come out; Do I think it’s coming out this year? Probably. After what I’ve read. Probably, yeah.
HHMW: That’s great. Really appreciate you taking the time to speak with HipHopMyWay.
Miliano: Thank you, man.