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Killer Mike started out as one of the umpteenth members of The Dungeon Family – a Native Toungesque collective formed around Outkast and The Goodie Mob. No offense to the rest of the crew, but many of them have had a hard time carving out successful solo careers or building solid fanbases for themselves. Maybe that’s why Mike felt the need to depart from the Dungeon Fam/Purple Ribbon Allstars some years back, seeking reinvention with his Grind Time series of street albums/mixtapes – perhaps the best move his career. Since having reconciled with Big Boi, Mike released Pl3dge to great critical acclaim, a mere appetizer for R.A.P. (Rebellious African People’s) Music, produced entirely by Def Jux frontman, El-P.

From the moment you hit “play” on R.A.P. Music, the album bludgeons you with a fist full of hardcore G-shit with it’s opening track, “Big Beast”, carving out a new genre of retro-future hip-hop, as each Mike, T.I., and Bun B bum rush El’s production with ease. The combination of Killer Mike’s southern drawl and El’s heavy beats present a unique combination not heard on any previous release thus far. “Untitled”, featuring Scar, finds Mike explaining his life philosophies over a wobbly dancehall rhythm as Scar sings the hook, while Mike channels UGK on the pimped out “Southern Fried”.

Mike uses his 12-song podium to great extent, rather than wasting time talking about the requisite subjects covered by every other rapper. While the light-hearted “JoJo’s Chillin’” finds him in fictional Slick Rick storytellin’ mode, he pulls back the curtain and gets autobiographical on “Willie Burke Sherwood”. “Reagan” finds him re-examining the effect the War-On-Drugs had on the Black community, leading directly into “Don’t Die”, a tale of him going up against a pack of dirty cops.

While El has made a career out of producing for more off-kilter, experimental emcees, seeing his production with a more grounded voice like Killer Mike reinvents his whole sound. This is the Bomb Squad producing Amerikkka’s Most Wanted all over again – an unexpected collaboration of two equally dope acts bringing out the best in one another, and restoring our faith in rap music.

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18 Responses to "Killer Mike – “R.A.P. Music” – @@@@1/2 (Review)"
  • Model Citizen says:

    @Tom, while yes, other emcees have covered the same subject matter as Mike, I don’t see how he sounds like a “cliche rapper.” I guess I don’t know what subject matter could truly be considered “groundbreaking” in 2012. Pretty much every topic under the sun has been touched upon by somebody on wax. To be honest, I think Mike is the best emcee El-P has ever worked with extensively. I’ve always liked El-P’s production and mic skills, but like Pizzo said he’s worked with mainly “off kilter emcees.” It’s always nice to hear something other than run on sentence rap over El-P production. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire is another example of that.

  • jason benyon says:

    Heard this the other day great review with the comparison to the bomb squad…..def gonna cop this

  • Skins says:

    I gotta give it another listen, maybe while not on the fly, because the whole thing sounded like the same song on repeat to me the first time I listened to it…

  • D-roc says:

    This is what rap is all about to me. Dope lyrics, dope concepts, dope beats. El-p really is on another level. This album and Cancer 4 cure are so dope to me, and there have been a lot of real great hip hop albums already released this year, Action Bronson, Bumpy and Premo, Rustee Jux Kyo itachi, oc and apollo brown. This year to me has had more real hip hop than I have heard in a long time.

  • Bronze says:

    Great album! I love El-P’s production and Mike’s deep rhymes on this. I’m going to have to let this album marinate a little longer (that is a good thing). This album has so much substance, so it is going to take a little while to absorb the wisdom both are laying down.

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