“Hardcore G shit” are more than just the opening words of “Big Beast”. This simple phrase serves as a promissory statement, letting all listeners know what is about to take place. Killer Mike reintroduces himself on R.A.P. (Rebellious African People’s) Music, the newest addition to a remarkable catalog. Journeying east to link up with El-P, of Company Flow fame, the NY MC/producer takes the commanding role of the sole proprietor of the album’s beats. While many artists choose to work with a generous number of the “hottest” producers, this sound is orchestrated with the cohesive precision of a mastermind. Mike is a kid in a candy store with a formidable collection of El-P tracks at his disposal. The two pair exceptionally well together, making R.A.P. Music an excellent display of each other’s strengths. Beats to the rhymes combine to make this one of the most sonically pleasing releases of 2012.
Beginning with a declaration of no holds barred rhyme spitting; “Big Beast” is the lead single. Assisted by Bun B and T.I. who previously appeared on “Re-Akshon” with a then new Killer Kill, they’re also joined by another Atlanta newcomer, Trouble. Over El-P’s booming, blaring and thumping production, these MCs warn all unsuspecting stars, “rappers and producers and such” of the looming storm. From here the use of sound and the skillful display of wit, storytelling and wordplay move seamlessly. “Go!” showcases a rapid paced flow that bounces against a menacing track. In other areas, music dictates the style that best suits the song. “Butane (Champions Theme)” is a charged number featuring the maestro as a featured performer. The bars stamp a partnership and solidify both MCs commitment to achieving greatness on all forefronts.
Classic Killer is delivered on “Southern Fried”, a day in the life of Michael Render. Slick, street and very much southern, Atlanta is done proud. Taking Mike out of the spotlight for a bit is “JoJo’s Chillin”, a short hustler’s story that plays like a mini movie. Offering a look into the man behind the Grind Time Official imprint, selections such as “Untitled” featuring Scar and “Willy Burke Sherwood”, a dedication to his late grandfather, exhibit the introspective side of Killer Mike. These records make up much of what he stands for, and are not done out of obligation. Listeners are privileged to hear what is close to his heart. Always unafraid to take a stance on political issues, Mike rhymes about great injustices carried out by one of the most polarizing figures in American history on “Reagan”. The chilling, crisp production compliments the methodic, unflinching rhymes. It serves as a call for further exploration into a political system that has managed to cripple those who give it power. This song is executed to perfection. And to conclude the album, the title track “R.A.P. Music” is a celebration of all things black and musical. It is here that Mike sings the praises of everything music has done for him and what he hopes his music will do for others.
Of all the stories told on R.A.P. Music, Killer Mike is at his best telling his own. He is telling an American story; OUR story. This presentation of raw, relentless and revolutionary thinking is as rewarding as it is refreshing. It goes further than the current trends and is not a poor attempt at shock value for sales. Killer Mike and El-P crafted something extraordinary; an album that doesn’t compromise, cut corners or cop out should be celebrated. It is not enough to applaud this album for making rap music something to believe in once more. Rap music fans can finally let out that “hallelujah” we’ve held onto for so long. Hallelujah for R.A.P. Music.
DOWNLOAD: Killer Mike- R.A.P MUSIC (iTunes)
Peace, Hip Hop & Purple Rain