Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music | Album Review | By Volume

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Killer Mike

R.A.P. Music

Wherein Killer Mike reminds us all that he is a G.

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Author: on June 2, 2012
Williams Street
May 15, 2012

Here is to hoping Mike can catch a break. Waist deep into a vibrant career currently presenting album number six, the Atlanta native follows up his excellent Pl3dge with a scorching hot co-op with El-P in R.A.P. Music. While he still is not really vying for major airplay, there is more to this powerhouse of an album than ear candy for hip-hop heads. Granted, a song like “Big Beast” – where Mike asserts that Atlanta is far from any sweet peach (postured by a bombastic assault of bass via El-P’s production) and Mike, Bun B and T.I. act almost homogeneously  in their fervor – is probably not hitting the Top 40. Apologies, though, as R.A.P. Music has no intentions for charts; this shit is striking directly for your heart. Sure, Mike may be crashing the gates donned in a ski mask with an axe and grenade in hand, but if he can find a way in: man he decorates things up so pristinely.

I don’t make dance music/This is R.A.P/Opposite of the sucker shit they play on T.V,” he exclaims vehemently on the tail end of the aforementioned “Big Beast.” Easy as it is to either assume Mike is that kind of rapper or figure he is just squawk-boxing general back-packer tropes, it would be an unfortunate oversight. As much as one could attempt to pan Killer Mike for attempting to define so conclusively what is or is not Rap it is hard to argue against his chops. A horn-laden masterstroke on the part of El and Mike comes in the form of “Anywhere But Here,” a back ender whose imagery is as haunting as its ethereal hook courtesy of Emily Panic. “I maneuver through the ATL/In a black SL/With the goddess of a black female/This is black male heaven with the ballers all professing/But to me home feels like Hell,” he illustrates provocatively.  Mike continues: “Even though it’s black cops, from the mayors to the top/Black blood still gets spilled/They raided a house/No drugs were ever found/But a black grandmother laid killed.” Barren and dark is this vision of his; jarring as it might seem at first there is comfort to be found in these dimly-lit caverns.

“So you ask what happens to a dream deferred?/Langston, well it kills itself…” Michael utters, almost defeated, to send off “Anywhere But Here” before Ms. Panic takes control. This introspective examination of his home and personal experience as a reply to Hughes’ poem is heart wrenching. But even as Langston asked: “What happens to a dream deferred?” He still saw fit to imagine a more chaotic ending concluding: “Or does it explode?” R.A.P. Music if anything is that very eruption and as Mike later states on the record’s title track: “This is jazz/this is funk/this soul/this is gospel/This is sanctified sex/this is player pentecostal.” He and El-P are attempting more than just some sweeping overture of the underground. No one ever really asked them to weather the weight of hip-hop and R.A.P. Music is not going to burst down the walls of accessibility for those not into harder music. What is most endearing and impressive though is when backs are bent and encumbrance is placed on the shoulders of Killer Mike and El-P. They deliver exceptionally, even if we never thought to request it of them.

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