The story of Killer Mike’s career is the story of non-fu*k giving. When Mike first came onto the national stage Snappin & Trappin alongside Outkast he had the cojones to call his own verse a classic, a move some considered arrogant, but he didn’t give a fu*k. He called it like he saw it. As he fought to establish a solo career he could have caved to the pressure to simplify his music, to either be a “street” rapper or a political rapper, but Killer Mike is more complicated than that. He’s both a reader …
DJBooth Album Review
Make no mistake, Killer Mike absolutely cares what you think, there might not be another rapper alive as vocal in responding to both the media and public, but that doesn’t mean he lets the world influence his music. Perhaps the presence of consummate outsider El-P pushed him even, perhaps Mike has simply reached the point in his life where he’s completely confident in his abilities and ideas, perhaps both, but R.A.P. Music sounds like exactly no other album to come out this year. It’s a project that’s simultaneously heavily historic and recklessly progressive, a project that’s both a street fight and college lecture. In other words, if you prefer your racks stacked up on other racks, you might want to look elsewhere.
We might as well start with the street fight portion of the program. Scratch that, Big Beast isn’t so much a street fight as it is a riot. In addition to one of the best T.I. verses we’ve heard in a minute and Bun B's as solid as ever, Big Beast is Mike at his biggest and baddest, an emcee who can weave Boogie Down Productions and old school Def Jam references into aggressively uppercut flows. Southern Fried also finds itself on the “turn the volume up” side of the spectrum showcasing Mike’s ability to really ride a flow, as does the aptly titled Go!, which ups the tempo and goes heavy once again on the rap references. And while unlike Big Beast and Go! it demands some more serious mental energy to follow, JoJo’s Chillin is one of the more impressive exercises in storytelling rap you’re going to here. No doubt about it, the man can rap.
But we’ve known about Mike’s ability to First 48 a mic since the Akshon days. Where R.A.P. Music really makes its mark is in its ability to touch on both global politics and the effect those international decisions have on the average block. Don’t Die uses heavy narration to explore race and police brutality with a depth we almost never get – not all cops are bad, but the ones that are can end your life – and Ghetto Gospel is an intensely personal track that takes its cuts at everything from religion to the justice system. But it’s Reagan that stands out the most. Rarely, if ever, do we hear an emcee blame both himself and the world’s most powerful men for the plethora of ills plaguing our communities, but on Reagan Killer Mike gives us: “…all we seem to give them is some balling and some dancing / And some talking about our car and imaginary mansions / We should be indicted for bullshit we inciting / Hand the children death and pretend that its exciting.” Yeah, you’re gonn have to think that sh*t over, and that’s exactly the point.
Those who measure the worth of an album on copies sold will likely dismiss and discredit R.A.P. Music, but in doing so they’d be dismissing one of the braver hip-hop albums we’ve heard in years. Actually, on second thought, maybe it’s not brave at all. Maybe when you don’t give a fu*k making an album like this is easy. Frankly I don’t know, I’m still prone to giving a fu*k what others think about my work (on occasion). But with R.A.P. as my guide, maybe someday I too can learn to simply speak the truth at all times, regardless of the consequences.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 05/22/12
Related Songs & Features
Considering Killer Mike‘s debut collaboration with El-P dropped in May of 2012, it could be said that new single Ghetto Gospel and its official video are a little bit late. Seen from another perspective, though,...
By materially supporting the Nicaraguan Contras, who contributed to the crack epidemic by shipping large quantities of cocaine into the country, and funneling domestic drug arrests into for-profit prisons, the Reagan...
For all the records dedicated to rappers’ mothers, there’s a distinct drought of odes to dads. On newly-released album inclusion Willie Burke Sherwood, Killer Mike takes the first step toward changing that,...
During a childhood trip to the zoo, did you ever stop in front of the elephant habitat and just stare with wonderment, marveling at the fact that a living creature could be that f*cking huge? I did—and, though I’ve...
Who said Grand Hustle ain’t got that mass appeal? On the heels of B.o.B’s Strange Clouds comes Killer Mike, who’s taken a more emotional route on stand-out cut Anywhere But Here, off his brand new album,...
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Look Back At It ft. Killer Mike" (2008)
Member Reviews and Ratings
- DJBooth City Cypher #1 (ft. Emilio Rojas, Maffew Ragazino, Black Dave, HD & Kirk Knight)
- It’s Electric: An EDM Guide For the Hip-Hop Head
- Best/Worst Of The Week: Coolio Turns To Porn, Nicki’s Comical Booty & More
- Russ, The Wild Card #TopProspects
- Sean Brown - The Top
- Even More Porn Stars in Music Videos (NSFW)
- Common - Nobody’s Smiling
- Real Recognize Real: Wrekonize on Pink Floyd, the Rise of TDE & More
- Bobby Shmurda is the New Worst Thing to Happen to Shmusic
- The Best Hip-Hop & R&B Songs of 2014 (Ongoing)
Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.