(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.