(Williams Street Recordings)
There are a few ways of getting my attention and making me love what you’re doing – one is to be affiliated with Outkast and the other is to have El-P giving you beats – Killer Mike fits the bill with both of these and as such it was with excitement that I listened to his new album, R.A.P. Music [Rebellious African People].
The production is superb, that much goes without saying with El-P’s trademark layers surrounding the Atlanta rapper, whilst never engulfing him and stifling his lyrics and delivery. This isn’t your usual Dirty South fayre though, with opening track Big Beast laying down the gauntlet – never before have Bun B and T.I. rapped over so visceral a beat, their drawl sounding perfect alongside the Company Flow man’s beats. It’s not all dense though, there are plenty of catchy moments within the album, from the short-but-sweet Go [complete with DJ Abilities scratches], the bump-in-your-cars Southern Fried and the sing-a-long chorus of Anywhere But Here.
This album certainly isn’t just about the beats though, Mike kills it throughout regardless of the lyrical content. Bigging up himself up comes extremely easily, lyrics like “I go in, I go hard / I go stupid, oh my God / Shamalamadoomalama Shamalamadoomalama even when I ain’t saying shit”, “Ain’t I fresh, ain’t I clean / ain’t I ride through my city in the meanest machine” on some serious pimp shit, it makes sense that the rapper who seems larger than life says at much in his raps. He gets political too, breaking the light-heartedness immediately with a character assassination of a former President “I leave you with four words: I’m glad Reagan dead” and slams the police on Don’t Die, which sounds like NWA sent back from the future to smack kids listening to Drake: “I woke up this morning to a cop with a gun / who told me that he looking for a n**** on the run / I thought for a second, then I screwed my face / and asked them dirty pigs ‘why the fuck you in my place?’ / He said ‘Chill or we kill, this is a warning’ / then I told him ‘Fuck you, where is the warrant?'”
Whether he’s envoking the spirit of Ice Cube or reclining in the bask of his own Atlanta accent, Killer Mike has stepped up massively with this record. As he says himself on Jojo’s Chillin, “This album was made entirely by Jaime and Mike”, he’s always been a talent but going in so hard and with El on the boards behind him [and with a stellar verse on Butane], this is nothing short of a revelation.
Outkast’s Big Boi has been arrested and charged with drug possession.
The rapper, who recently performed at Glastonbury to much acclaim, was detained in Miami over the weeked according to reports. He was believed to be in possession of MDMA, Ecstacy and, weirdly, Viagra.
There might be jokes about him being a not-so-Big Boi without the little blue pill, but we love him, so we will refrain.
Big Boi has announced he is well underway working on his new solo album.
The Outkast man, who released Sir Lucious Left Foot… last year to much acclaim is 17 songs into the follow-up, which he describes as “S-A-X-X-X triple unadulterated funk to the extremest level”. Sounds awesome. He also said:
“I’m seventeen songs into it now, everything is sounding phenomenal. I could put it out tomorrow if I wanted to, but I’mma marinate on it, because I’m on the road. I feel good about it, all the music’s sounding great… I’m just really stayin busy out here killin it”.
We’re massive fans here at Crossfire, so we cannot wait for this new on. Whilst we wait, let’s remind ourselves why he’s so awesome:
Outkast have always been boundary pushers both with their music and their attire, though the limelight always seems to shine on Andre 3000, thanks in no small part to the huge success of Hey Ya. But for that one track of Andre’s, Big Boi had Ghettomusick, he had The Way You Move and he had The Rooster. So when his long-awaited album finally dropped, it was always going to be huge. Nothing could quite have prepared me for just how good it is though – a fun rap album with huge beats, great guest appearances and the smiling-swagger of Big Boi firmly in the foreground.
The early appearance of long-time collaborator Sleepy Brown on Turns Me On gets proceedings going with a simple keyboard melody and backing chords before the first really huge track comes in. Normally a guest vocal from a band that seems to be some kind of Gym Class Heroes-lite group would have me reaching for the skip button, but somehow Antwan Patton makes it work with some boom bap drums and another simple melody. That’s why the beats on this record work so well, they’re not too dense, but they pack a punch and are the ultimate in sing-a-long-ability, and from Follow Us [“Before the fame I was the shit and now I’m just big, y’dig?”] the energy ramps up even further.
Shutterbug is going to be a staple hip hop club track in years to come, alongside Dead Prez’s Hip Hop, Joe Budden’s Pump It Up and anything Snoop or Dre put out in the late 90s, Scott Storch’s production is just what Big Boi needs to go in on and it’s followed by General Patton, which features fast-paced hi-hats, squashed horns and a handclap snare, the definition of a banger if ever there was one. Following that might not be easy but the Andre 3000 produced You Ain’t No DJ featuring my favourite new rapper Yelawolf [who states “Yeah you might be famous so what? I bet you can’t hitch that semi up to this tow-truck”] is just what Southern Rap should be.
There is no let up as the record nears its end either, Fo Yo Sorrows managing to bring together George Clinton and Too $hort in perfect harmony, Night Night which is the most Outkast sounding song on the record reminiscent of ‘Morris Brown’ from the Idlewild soundtrack and ending with a track featuring Gucci Mane. Big Boi has put together a record that was a long, long time in coming [and not without its problems] but was well worth the wait. Quite possibly the album of the year right here. Bangers.