Killer Mike –R.A.P. Music
Record Label: Williams Street Records
Release Date: May 15, 2012
On R.A.P. Music Killer Mike shows that it's still possible to deliver social commentary on a hip hop album without sounding like he recently finished his first week of liberal arts classes at the local community college. “Hardcore G shit, homie, I don't play around” is the first line from Killer Mike and throughout the album he backs up that proclamation. His lyrics are blunt and his delivery is in your face. With the help of flawless production from El-P, Killer Mike has made an album where the message and the music compliment each other. The result is a classic record that comes close to reaching the standard that Public Enemy and N.W.A set impossibly high decades ago.
Killer Mike raps with a confidence that is infectious and an honesty that is refreshing. He brings the politics of Lupe Fiasco without preaching and the party anthems of Ludacris without sounding ignorant. He successfully bounces back and forth between a smooth, chilled out southern drawl and an aggressive flow that adds even more bite to his views. Whether recalling the negative externalities of Reagan era policies or referencing Langston Hughes poetry he sounds right at home. The album remains interesting throughout though because Killer Mike unabashedly sandwiches those topics between songs that will be the backdrop to your next drunken night out.
The impact of the production by El-P on this album can not be given enough credit. He creates southern bangers that add another dimension to the street commentary that this album excels in. He provides sinister backdrops that are intense and haunting. Most importantly, the entire album is smooth and flows from track to track with a consistency that is undeniable. This production is so key because Killer Mike insists on rapping about equal parts personal life, parties and politics. El-P allows both sides of Mike to coexist and flourish in stellar fashion.
R.A.P. Music is one of the best albums of the year not because it is particularly groundbreaking, but because it never misses a step. Killer Mike combines his take on southern hip hop, as made popular by the likes of Outkast, with a modern take on the revolutionary politics that N.W.A proliferated decades ago. He has borrowed the best parts from other artists while avoiding the weak points that leads to inconsistent, watered down albums. On R.A.P. Music Killer Mike has found a balance that allows him to write intellectual social critiques while never compromising his sound. This is an aggressive and confrontational offering that shows no signs of being neutered to appease anyone. This is a rap album by a talented artist who demonstrates an understanding of and a respect for rap music, and that is refreshing.