Sometimes when you have to write about music, really incredible music, you find yourself in this situation where you have more to say about it than anyone gives a shit about reading. You come to a point where after listening to an album dozens of times in less than a week, and can't stop listening to it, that you don't even want to write about it. You ONLY want to listen. It's rare for that to happen, at least for me.
The good news is... it's that much less rare when R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike and entirely produced by EL-P gets released TODAY. The bad news is that I've listened to this album 20 times or so already and have a lot to say.
This one was kind of a bitch to review to be completely honest. Killer Mike sums up the entire thing on the 9th bar of the opening track better than I could do in five rewrites and 2,000 words. (well played)...
"POW muthafucker POW, COME UP OFF THE CHAIN!" Dude is dead-ass serious too. Because people are owed something for making something this good (like they used to), that you can get so much out of. From start to finish this album is hard. as. Fuck. One MC, one producer. That's it, aside from a few well-placed and very notable guests. This is an extremely cohesive, complex piece of work from every possible angle. A lot of comparisons have been made (myself included from the review of "Don't Die"), but as much as every artist is really a sum of their influences, these two made something very original and equally important. No need to mention influences when there's an obvious nod to them in the beginning of "GO" on the album itself.
Killer Mike isn't usually mentioned in conversations about the greatest MC's of this era, or all time, but after a few listens, there is nothing separating him from whoever you or anyone else considers to be labeled as "great" whether you were already a fan or not. He has as many styles and cadences as he does topics on this album, and from a purely technical standpoint, he's as good as anybody and ten times as versatile as, man... I don't even know. They call him Mike Bigga because he's a big dude, and he sounds big, which is why him and EL work perfectly together. It's the type of shit where if you were going to riot, you could riot the Fuck out to this album. That's kinda EL's thing.
1. Big Beast - (Ft. Bun B, T.I. and Trouble). Heard this shit 100 times over the last few months, easy. Fuck the depth for a second and spit that Hardcore G shit, homie I don't play around, shit. Drums are HUGE and the beat is *simple* for EL. I love how it's mixed down as to where the drums come in after a few bars of each verse and punch you straight in the dick. Hi-hats like a machine gun. Mike sets it off like an A-bomb and closes it in similar fashion with a nod to KRS. Bun-B's flow and attitude are as unFuckwitable as ever and T.I. sounds cool as shit.
2. Untitled - Bumped the hell out of the snippet for this one too. Then, I thought it just didn't have a name yet, but eventually found out it is actually called "Untitled" (you tricky bastards). Sounds like it's been re-mixed and was wonderfully mastered. Mike has explained the lyrics to this one in a few interviews, and I would invite you to check those out cuz it's better coming from him. This song is his manifesto though. If you want to know where he stands on anything that matters, he'll let you know on this one. Scar kills the chorus, it's eerie as Fuck.
3. Go! - You know, just a solid two minutes of Mike murdering a beat for no god damn reason. "SHAMALAMADOMALAMA SHAMALAMADOMALAMA even when I ain't sayin' shit" is the part that I always rap to myself in the car, then Abilities tears his fader and Shure MM47's a new asshole on the cuts. The elements of this song are what attracted to me to hip hop a long ass motherfucking time ago, and are why it still does it for me.
4. Southern Fried - EL goes full retard on this one from the jump. Mike comes in with that laid back flow, then switches gears to doubletime and back again so effortlessly that I hate him for it. And who is that smooth ass muthafucker singing the chorus? Is it a new R&B sensation? Naaaah, it's Mike you silly Fuck! I mentioned his versatility before, yo. Nobody has ever sounded this cool rapping about his wife before. NOBODY!
5. JoJo's Chillin - Filthy ass bouncy beat. Dope story. Mike is a storyteller. He's good at telling stories in rhymes. Really fucking good. True, related story: My homie who moved to Cali several years ago flied home for a week a couple years ago and got picked up at O'hare by a mutual friend of ours. They get in the car, my friend from CA goes in his pocket of the coat he wore on the plane the whole damn way home looking for a lighter for his Camel and finds a gram of bud straight from a dispensary in his pocket! That shit got smoked immediately.
6. Reagan - This one is going to get a lot of attention. Mike speaks his mind here and doesn't hold much back. He also isn't lying either, so listen. I unfortunately got into politics at age 12, so if you didn't, and want to know the root and reason for income inequality in the United States today, this will do you more good than cable news or your history book. This song is going to make a certain Carlton Ridenhour smile if it hasn't already.
7. Don't Die - I've already covered this.
8. Ghetto Gospel - Another filthy fucking dirty piece of EL funk. Mike speaks on some things that, as a white dude, I can't identify with.. haha, but it doesn't matter. This shit is so entertaining with all the, dare I call them..."samples", coming in and out from everywhere. Storytelling is in full effect here yet again and KM is on some next shit. This weekend a good friend of mine told me this song goes extremely well with hash.
9. Butane (Ft. EL) - YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH. Mike breaks it down country as Fuck for you slowpokes. To say that this beat was made for Mr. Bigga would be backhand-me-on-the-face-in-the-street-because-I-deserve-it-for-that worthy, but this beat was made for Mr. Bigga. Then EL does his guest appearance thing and drops a deuce on his own beat. I can see shitting all over someone elses beats, but for real, EL is leading the category in producer/rappers who shit on their own beats. Like "Yo, you mind if I shit on this beat I made for you man?". What are you gonna say? No? Naw... you kindly reply "as long as I can shit on it first, JACK!". DEAL.
10. Anywhere But Here (Ft. Emily Panic) - Another story song in the vein of JoJo, but a hell of a lot darker. EL is on his movie score shit here as Mike weaves a gritty tale of a kid in N.Y. How their imaginations work together here is something that I hope to high heaven I get to hear more of.
11. Willie Burke Sherwood - Little known fact, EL-Producto invented the synthesizer as a young boy. All jokes aside, this is an extremely emotional song. It tells Mike's personal journey, and as someone who also had no other father other than his one and only grandfather, this one really hits home. "This is for the dads and the granddads, and the lil homie that ain't never had dads". "This is for the man I look up to, and all the struggle that the man had to go through". Word the Fuck up.
12. R.A.P. Music - AWWWW shit!!!! If you're in your early to late 30's, had you thought about it in the late 80's, this is what you would have thought hip hop in 2012 would sound like. EL once again stays true to himself and still gets his dirty south on and Mike pays homage to his, and possibly many of the most influential figures in your life I love how this album ends on a really positive note, in outer space, on the mothership.
My fingers hurt man, and it's 12:51am and I have to work at 7. Let's get down to brass tax. This is a classic album. It's one you'll go back to ten years from now and slap yourself because you forgot about it for a year or so. To call something "timeless" is unnecessarily dramatic and ridiculous, but as long as hip hop is around, so will this record.
SOLID 10 out of 10. Not even questionable.
(Mike... if you read this, you're gonna have to explain the "Lord of the Flies cliff note worthy metaphor shit" to me man, I'm sorry, haah!)
You can order the album here: http://definitivejux.com/
AND... you can see EL, Killer Mike, Mr. MuthaFuckin' eXquire, and Despot on tour here. If they come to your town, and you don't go, you really fucked up bro. BIG TIME.
05-21 New York, NY - Santos Party House ^
06-19 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade *#^
06-20 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues *#^
06-21 Dallas, TX - Granada *#^
06-22 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live *#^
06-23 Austin, TX - Mohawk *#^
06-25 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent *#^
06-26 San Diego, CA - Casbah *#^
06-28 Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex *#^
06-29 San Francisco, CA - Regency *#^
06-30 Portland, OR - Hawthorne *#^
07-01 Seattle, WA - Neumo's *#^
07-02 Vancouver, British Columbia - Fortune *#^
07-05 Minneapolis, MN - Fineline *#^
07-06 Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge *#^
07-07 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop *#^
07-08 Ann Arbor, MI - Blind Pig *#^
07-09 Toronto, Ontario - Hoxton^
07-11 Boston, MA - Paradise *#^
07-12 Providence, RI - The Met *#^
07-14 Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero #^
07-15 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel *#^
* with Mr. MuthaFuckin' eXquire
# with Killer Mike
^ with Despot