Killer Mike aptly describes R.A.P. Music when his first line explodes out of the speakers. “Hardcore G s**t, homie, I don’t play around”. This is not exactly my first introduction to Killer Mike, but is the first time I have decided to experience a full Killer Mike record. If Killer Mike isn’t ringing a bell, you may remember him from guesting on Outkast’s “Snappin’ & Trappin’”, or maybe better from his single off his debut album, “A.D.I.D.A.S“. Whether you were familiar or not with Killer Mike before R.A.P. Music, he is a name that deserves attention after his latest offering.
Being a rapper out of Atlanta, and seeing the likes of T.I. and Bun B on the album, I expected R.A.P. Music to be more of a traditional southern rap album. The album does not completely discard a southern rap feel, but instead the production spans from coast to coast, bringing in the best elements of most everything hip-hop music has to offer.
The genius does not lie in making an album that spans so many different types of hip-hop. The genius lies in melding the different styles into something cohesive. From “Big Beasts” Brooklyn feel to “Butane”, where for some reason I was just waiting for 1995 Snoop Dogg to drop a verse, all the different delivery and production styles work well together. Maybe that is why there is a paucity of guest spots. Killer Mike can vary his own style so flawlessly, that he doesn’t need other people for a change of pace. Also of note is the fact thatR.A.P. Music was entirely produced by himself and Jaime Meline (aka El-P). This aids the cohesiveness and it is almost unheard of for hip-hop albums not to contain a laundry-list of producers.
“Big Beast” would fit in perfectly on Jay-Z’s Black Album, with its hard-hitting distortion and cymbals. As an added bonus, T.I. delivers his best work in years on the track, reminding us that he used to be one of big dogs in the industry. There are also points on R.A.P. Music, “Big Beast” and “Don’t Die” included, where Killer Mike’s tone and flow is indistinguishable from vintage Ice Cube, which is one of the highest compliments I can laud another rapper with. Killer Mike even finishes off “Don’t Die” with what has to be a shout-out to Cube, “F**k the police is all I gotta say”.
There is a fine line between completely mimicking another rapper creating an acceptable tone similar to other artists. It is a credit to Killer Mike that he never appears to be ripping off another artists sound. It is also a credit that he touches on some serious topics without sounding too self-important. He may cross the line a little when he finishes the track “Reagan”, an otherwise solid track, with “I’m Glad Reagan Dead”. I am not a person that is overly-sensitive, and don’t take personal offense to eff-you’s aimed at dead people. But the point got across by way of the rest of the lyrics of the song, and thus ended up being an unnecessary indulgence.
In the end though, Killer Mike’s R.A.P Music seems to be firmly in the driver’s seat for best rap album of the year. We’ll have to see what Kanye and the G.O.O.D. Music group bring with their upcoming album, but they are going to be hard-pressed to bring anything to the table as impressive as Killer Mike’s latest. Finally, hip-hop has a tent-pole album this year.
Can’t Miss: “Don’t Die”, “Big Beast”, “Untitled”, “R.A.P. Music”
Can’t Hit: None