R.A.P. MusicAlbum | Killer Mike By Phillip Mlynar
Hard-hitting lyrics and hardcore beats from Mike and Jaime.
"This album was created entirely by Jaime and Mike," announces Atlanta rapper and Outkast affiliate Killer Mike halfway through his new album. Jaime is Jaime Meline, better known as the Brooklyn artist EL-P, and he produces all 12 tracks on the project. It's a convincing combination that harks back to an earlier era of rap thanks to El's knack for conjuring up abrasive and stripped-down beats and Mike's voice, which relays his raps in the sort of authoritative boom that commands attention. And despite a moniker that suggests some sort of singular gangsta rap agenda, Killer Mike has always tackled wider issues: here "Reagan" has him looking back on the socio-political follies of the '80s and tracing their influence to the present administration. Meanwhile, "Don't Die" is an attack on "dirty cops" that also sees him throwing a barb towards his hollower hip-hop peers as he vents, "I'm a public enemy because I'm cold lampin'/ And I don't give a fuck about a party in the Hamptons/ And I don't give a fuck about a motherfuckin' Forbes list/ Far as I'm concerned, that's a motherfuckin' whore's list." (He doesn't go so far as to name names, but you suspect he's unlikely to be receiving a future invite for Diddy's next Hamptons bash.) The Public Enemy reference isn't incidental, either, with El stating the album was inspired by the work the group's production unit The Bomb Squad did with Ice Cube back at the turn of the '90s. But instead of being a retro-fest, R.A.P. Music takes the Bomb Squad's ballsy and noisy approach to music making and updates it -- El's powerful beats seem to have prompted a ferocious performance from Mike. It's a blend that has resulted in this year's most prickly and provocative blast of hip-hop yet.