2 Milly performing the Milly Rock, all photos by the author
For whatever reason, New York hip-hop had decided by the 90s that it was just not going to dance any more. The city slowly started to come back around, though. In 2004, Terror Squad released “Lean Back” (ironically a song about being too good to dance). Last year brought Bobby Shmurda’s Shmoney Dance, along with the accompanying hit “Hot Nigga.” This year it’s Bed-Stuy artist 2 Milly’s song and dance “Milly Rock,” a move that replaces the Shmoney Dance’s smoothness for a glitchy update of the two-step.
But although the dance started in New York, it’s now starting to go viral, as the song’s hook promises, on blocks across the country. The official video has currently attracted over 340,000 views; people have since Milly Rocked on fire escapes and inside of whips. Rihanna Milly Rocked. Damn it, people are risking their lives to do the Milly Rock. This past Sunday, Travi$ Scott brought 2 Milly and the Stack Paper collective out at Hot 97’s Summer Jam, one of hip-hop’s marquee events. It shouldn’t take that cosign to convince folks the Milly Rock isn’t simply a local thing. But hey, it’s a good look.
The Milly Rock is a distinctive side to side two-step—the song’s instructions go “first arms up then left and right / then MJ get out my sight”—but part of its charm is how it allows room for creativity. Improvisation is part of what makes the Milly Rock the Milly Rock, along with some pivots and throwing your hips into it.
Two days before Summer Jam, 2 Milly and his crew are Milly Rocking in his small apartment at the heart of Bed-Stuy—the do-or-die part. The lifelong friends and family, a group of around ten people, are chilling; some rock du rags with the flap out and others shout lyrics as Fetty Wap and Blueprint-era Jay Z blast from the speakers. Lil Ock, an amicable rapper who’s a member of Stack Paper, jogged downstairs to escort me to that fourth floor room. As he introduces himself, one of the first things he shows is his crew’s name tattooed on the back of his hand.
“Loyalty?” I ask. He confirms with an impish grin.
Lil Ock (front and center), Lil Cee (behind Lil Ock), 2 Milly, and friends
“Milly Rock” is officially 2 Milly’s song, but you can surmise that it belongs to the crew of lifelong friends as much as it does the 27-year-old entertainer. 2 Milly has been rapping with his boys since he was 13. Although unknown to the national scene, Stack Paper had enough of a buzz for Juelz Santana to allegedly steal the name of its prior moniker, Skull Gang, for his group around 2008, according to 2 Milly's close friend Lil Cee. Santana’s Skull Gang released only one album, in 2009, and it peaked at number 142 on the Billboard 200. Stack Paper had to wait another six years before it was rocking stages like Manhattan’s Webster Hall with the Milly Rock.
2 Milly’s confidence is clear as he strolls across the small room in his Timbs with a wad of cash in his back pocket. Talking to 2 Milly and the crew makes it clear the confidence gives way to focus instead of leisure. “Milly Rock” is really a start. 2 Milly is working on a project titled Welcome to Millyville, and a collective project. Plus, the clique is still working on getting out of “Stuyraq” for themselves and the homies—deceased or incarcerated—who aren’t in that room.
Noisey: How you feel about the Milly Rock blowing up?
2 Milly: It’s lit. This shit don’t make me feel no different type of way. I’m still a regular nigga. You see where we come in and go to sleep at. All my niggas are right here. We wake up, eat sandwiches, smoke, make music, and dance. We Milly Rock all day. But this shit be having me like… The last two shows [one at Webster Hall] had me feeling like, “Whoa!” This shit really wicked now, you feel me?
Was any of this a surprise to you?
2 Milly: Nah. I’ve been making music, but there’s different types of songs that I make. I make the raunchy shit, I make the gangsta shit, I make the club shit, and I make the girls shit. With the Milly Rock, I was just thinking about how the fuck I’m going to do this shit and get on the radio. I would make a bunch of songs but never think about radio spins. So I sat back like, “The dance is going to hold the motherfuckin’ song down.” So now I’ve got to have some shit where I’m not cursing too much.
Lil Ock: We’ve been doing it, but niggas ain’t had no song for the dance. Now we’ve got a song.
So the dance came first?
Lil Ock: Yeah. We’ve got footage from four years ago on YouTube. We just never had no song to it. We used to do the dance to other people’s songs. We used to do the dance to our different songs. Now we’ve got the song that go with the dance, so it makes sense now.
How did you come up with that dance?
2 Milly: Just regular dancing. You got your regular two-step. It’s the same shit.
Tell me what type of artists you listen to.
2 Milly: I fuck with everything.
Lil Ock: I fuck with Future.
Lil Cee: I really like the R&B shit.
2 Milly: Trey Songz. Chris Brown. Jeremih. Type of shit like that. I’m a ladies type of nigga. I don’t care about that gangsta shit.
Lil Cee: We make the gangstas Milly Rock.
2 Milly: C’mon, man. There ain’t really nothing else to do. If you ain’t Milly Rockin’, you ain’t doing nothing. Nobody don’t want to be in the spot standing around looking lame. Why you come out here, boy?
Why is it, “I Milly Rock on any block”?
Lil Ock: Because he Milly Rock on any block
2 Milly: You Milly Rock on any block. I ain’t even have to say much.
So there’s no block you can’t Milly Rock at?
2 Milly: Check the hashtags. They rocking in the desert. They rocking on top of the mountains. Motorcycles.
Lil Ock: They were on top of a motocycle Milly Rocking, son.
2 Milly: On a motocycle!
So people are risking their lives to Milly Rock?
Lil Cee: Look. A nigga wrote it on his visor hat.
"On Any Block" visor
Have you been in Bed-Stuy your whole life?
Lil Ock: It’s rough.
Lil Cee: Slice Drive. That’s what we call here.
Lil Ock: RIP to our man Slice. He would’ve been right here. RIP to Slice and Lil D.
Lil Ock: Slice was a real cool, good dude. You would’ve been talking to him, like you would’ve been talking to me. Good dude.
Lil Cee: He was in the Milly Rock video…That shit is crazy—in that Militant Rock, he’s right there. This the hood. This is Stuyraq, you see what I’m saying? He had a weapon on him. Police pulled him over and they said that he shot at them and then they shot him. He died in the hospital a few weeks later.
Does a tragedy like this motivate you to make it out?
Lil Ock: Of course, man. We lost our friends to the streets. Slice just came home from doing five years. He was only 22, and he just came home. Lil D, that was another one of our friends we grew up with. He got killed in New Jersey after moving there with his mother. May 7, 2011.
There’s like another eight of us who grew up with us, too, and went to school with us. But they locked up or something. Like my brother, his cousin, his cousin, our friends. A lot of people want to see us make it.
Is there a conflict at all between staying true to the hood and making it out?
2 Milly: My thing is that we’re already from the hood. We’ve been in this hood the whole time. We know what comes along with this fame and money shit.
Lil Ock: Hate, envy, jealousy. You seen what happened to Chinx. I look at it like they’re just killing talent. We’ve still got a family. He’s doing music and he’s trying to provide for people who’re dependent on him. Whatever the case may be, if you’re in the streets and you’re doing what you’re doing, you’ve got to keep your eyes open. That comes with the environment. Like the situation we’re in right now, soon, we can’t even be in this neighborhood. Just for our own safety. It’s not that we don’t want to. We would love to come through and floss and show niggas it’s possible. But niggas don’t want to see that.
Anything you’d want to say to your new fans?
Lil Ock: Shout out to everybody fucking with us. To everybody from the hood: everybody from Gates Ave., Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy, Flatbush, East New York. It’s bigger than just us over here.
2 Milly: Yo, hold up ya’ll! Gimme a hug. You want my shoulder? Take my shirt.
Lil Ock: We touching people.
2 Milly: I don’t think I’ll ever get fake with it. I don’t like that.
Brian Josephs writes classic articles on every block. Follow him on Twitter.