Fortune Sound Club – Vancouver, BC
Gilbert Milam Jr aka Berner blazed through Vancouver’s Fortune Sound Club Wednesday night where he passed around an evening of Bay area hip hop to a vocal gathering of devout fans. Catching a steady smoke after years of relentless releases, brand promotion and underground love; the San Francisco native of Latin/Italian descent is on a tight roll on his Best Thang’ Smokin tour. A member of Wiz Khalifa’s Pittsburgh based Taylor Gang Entertainment, heavy toking hasn’t clouded any of this young man’s ambition and hustle. Besides putting out a long list of mixtapes dating back to 2007 Berner heads up a clothing/lifestyle line called Cookies started in his garage that now retails in over twenty states throughout the U.S and runs a hemp infused water company called Hemp2o which sells in over a thousand stores nationally.
While staying largely underground, Berner has earned a core fan base by maintaining an active presence on all platforms of social media and building a solid resume of collaborations with some mainstays in the rap game including label mates Juicy J and Khalifa as well as Snoop Dogg, B Real and Lil’ Kim. With Bay area production reminiscent of Too Short and samples ranging from Phil Collins to Mobb Deep, Berner tracks take a standout shape in a hip hop industry full of cookie cutter music.
On Fortune’s stage, Berner proved to be a pretty nice guy. Interacting with the crowd between each song and even keeping his cool when a young enthused female decided to hit the stage for a dance. “We ain’t come here for fighting, just pass that light, man.” Indeed they did…a lot. I have never been to a show with that much smoke. 4/20 celebrations were prolonged two weeks I suppose. “I can’t see the back of the room, is there anybody back there?” he asked the crowd. There certainly were, front to the back. Fans danced in a haze to older joints like Wax Room and hits off the Hempire record like the apt titled Burn One and Seal. The vibe was relaxed and much more peaceful than a lot of the rap shows I have attended in the past.
Berner has drawn comparison to fellow Latin hip hop star; the late Big Pun. With a relaxed flow and a similar stature the connection is a fair one and he is certainly on his way to mainstream success in the latin world and beyond. What sets this young lyricists apart is his hustle and his undeniable entrepreneurial business mind. With hard work and a well crafted sound Berner is making himself a big name in the game. Vancouver definitely showed him love on this night. The bond between he and our ‘green friendly’ city continues to grow. Hempire is out now.
Check Berner out at bernermusic.com.
+ Gavin Reid