Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Music Review: Killer Mike's 'R.A.P. Music'

"This some real G shit/ Ya gotta show respect."

That's the ending to the first track on Killer Mike's new album, R.A.P Music, and if you leave it there, this could just be another gansta rap album.  But it's a whole lot more than that.

For starters, there is the stand-out track, "Reagan," which was named Best New Track by Pitchforck Media in May.  (The album was released May 15, 2012).  I could write a whole essay on the beauty of this track, which exposes some of the oppressive crimes against the basic masses during the Reagan era, but also rants against some of the silly ideas often promoted by hip-hop artists.  Some of the lyrics: "So it seems our people starve/ from a lack of understanding./ Cause all we seem to give them/ is some balling and some dancing./ And some thinking about cars/ and imaginary mansions./"

A couple of the other stand-out tracks include the title track, which is a real homage to hip-hop music, as it compares it to a religious experience. And the very honest autobiographical track "Willie Burke Sherwood," (which has the best summary of the classic book, "Lord of the Flies," you will ever hear in any song).

Of course, what stands out the most on the album are all the contradictions.  For instance, you will hear references to Mumia Abu Jamal and the lack of justice for Black people, but in the same song you will hear Killer Mike refer to women as "Jezebel whores."

He's definitely not a "conscious MC" like Mos Def or Talib Kweli.  (Although his stance on Obama is a lot more radical than most conscious rappers).  He's more in the vein of someone like Ice Cube, who comes from the "hard streets," and whose lyrics reflect the best and worst thoughts of people living in the ghettos and barrios.

"A lot of people try to peg me as a political rapper and I'm not. I'm a social commentator and at times people have politicized the things I say, but I don't care too much for any political party. I care about people..." he recently told Spin magazine.

Killer Mike keeps his ear to the streets, and tells it the way he sees it.  This, (and the great production from El-P throughout the album), are good enough reason to listen to what he's saying.

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