Don't Die is the third sampling off R.A.P. Music we've heard since Killer Mike and EL-P announced the release of their collaborative effort some months ago. Since then, there's been a lot of "what an odd pairing!" type-shit and "oh this reminds me of..." going on. I guess everyone who has made a single statement about this album in any respect has probably been right so far. Odd pairing? I guess. Musical marriage made in heaven? Undeniably, so don't question it.
I'm lucky to be old enough to remember thinking "Ice Cube with Keith and Hank Shocklee, whaaaat the Fuck?!?" There was something about it that didn't seem natural, but the end result was a fucking masterpiece of an album that made perfect sense. I think it's safe to say that EL and Mike have that same chemistry. I also think it's safe to say that I haven't felt this way about hip hop since I was a pissed-off 12 year old listening to Public Enemy. People questioned me then, and some people might wonder why "Rebellious African People's Music" (the long version of the acronym that is the album title) would be appropriate listening for a non-black audience now. Well, it's because race relations are still fucked up, and if you're like me, I'm not pro-black, not pro-white, just pro-human beings. Cops killing an elderly black veteran for no fucking reason in New York, or a known racist in Florida gunning down a 17 year old black kid for most likely no other reason other than his race should have everyone pissed off, or at the minimum, aware that these types of injustices are STILL HAPPENING. The release of this song is so well-timed that there's no way it's a coincidence.
Don't Die has been out of the better part of the last two weeks, and I've been listening to it incessantly since. First listen is an instantaneous "oh that's dope" without even paying attention, but when you go a little deeper, this song is a fucking MOVIE in musical form. If you remember, EL-P actually scored a movie called Bomb the System that was released in 2002, so he's no stranger to the concept. He and Killer Mike just developed a way to do it in three minutes, not 90. If you take the storytelling mastery of Children's Story or Spottieottiedopaliscious, the sentiment of Fuck the Police, the revolutionary, goose bump-inspiring feeling of Fight the Power, then put them all in a blender, this is pretty much what you get. EL fucking murders this shit, in three parts, each one unique to Killer Mike's verse, and each section is actually mixed down to compliment Mike's lyrics as they're being delivered. You know like in a slasher flick where the pretty young girl is about to get murdered and that ominous synth or keyboard is playing in the background, then the killer jumps out and the music goes from ominous to HOLY Fuck THIS BITCH IS GETTING STABBED!?!? Yeah, they did that shit, in a hip hop song, with three verses/chapters of the story. 99.9% of hip hop songs are NOT produced like this. Most MC's and producers could never be this inventive or daring, and even if they did have the idea, they couldn't execute it this well, which is why this pairing is so perfect. Killer Mike's voice has an anger and a passion I haven't heard since.... well, Chuck D. I hate to draw the comparisons, but it's the only way to properly convey the feeling of this song without blasting it for you in person. This is the shit that makes you want to scream "AAAAAHHHH" as loud as you can for no fucking reason other than it's that good and infectious that you feel just as pissed off as Killer Mike sounds.
I'm not quoting particular lines from the song or getting any deeper in explaining its premise, that's Killer Mike's job as the MC and your job as the listener. From what we've heard so far, this album is going to be revolutionary. All of the comparisons will end when it's released and stands on its own as, dare I say, a classic. I haven't heard it in it's entirety nor am I psychic, I just know that on May 15th, woofers are getting blown all over the country, tempers are going to flare, and most importantly, consciousness will be elevated. To say this is going to be an important album is more than likely an understatement of epic proportions. Time will tell, about a month from today.
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