Killer Mike – MICHAEL | Ben’s Beat – Music Reviews

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Killer Mike has gone on record saying that he believes a rap group hasn’t really made it until they have four classic albums out. Now that his politically charged, boundary-pushing partnership with El-P on Run the Jewels has reached that mark, Mike’s first solo album since the critically acclaimed. Rap music in 2012 he finds him seizing the opportunity to elaborate his definitive life story. noble Miguel And set to the old-school funk, gospel and hip-hop soundtrack enjoyed by his late mother and grandmother, two figures who greatly influence his message, the album details his life growing up in poverty in Atlanta, the lessons he learned from his family, and how he turned those lessons into the ability to seize every opportunity that comes his way, ultimately becoming a successful rapper and businessman. For the most part, it’s a very compelling story, loaded with great guest artists and underpinned by Mike’s preachy-style microphone presence and his passion for everything he does. Despite a couple of lyrical moments that are confusing and contradictory at best and very disappointing for someone who seemed so progressive at worst, Killer Mike continues to claim his position as one of the most impressive rappers out there.

The project kicks off with a Dungeon Family reunion on “DOWN BY LAW,” which features an impressively soulful CeeLo Green backed by a funky bassline, church organ, and massive horn section. With one of the best mixes on the album when the beat finally drops, it essentially serves as a thesis statement for the album, as Mike mentions a lot of the themes that come up later on, which is interesting, because Mike has mentioned that it originated from as an Obama administration freestyle. With breathless treble flows, he affirms his place as king and shouts out to all his inspirations, both musical and political, by name. “SHED TEARS” takes us back to Mike’s younger days as he opens up on one of the most confessional tracks on the album. With powerful gospel energy in the form of huge choral harmonies, hands rapidly moving up and down the piano keys, and a mesmerizing conviction in a hook from gospel singer Lena Byrd-Miles, it’s even more fun to hear mixed with DJ scratches. . Mike talks about feeling bad about not being able to help his mother in his youth and ultimately feeling inadequate as a father, and even suicidal thoughts in his second verse, which only hits harder when silences and scratches carry weight. It cannot be underestimated how powerful Mike can be on the microphone.

For all that, the single “RUN” opens with a speech by Dave Chappelle, and unfortunately, I like his sentiment here, as he compares life as a minority to indiscriminate wartime killing, telling Mike to keep going because he’s lucky it’s not him on the ground. Despite a bone-crunching bassline and some slower, confident flows and a catchy repetitive hook from Mike, the track’s impact is somewhat dampened by some awkward edits of the original version finding Mike changing my mind so that the track doesn’t only apply to a specific breed. A Young Thug feature also feels out of place and added, simply because Mike wanted to make a statement about imprisoning him in the music video. “NRICH” features some compelling lines and metaphors about the crack era, as Mike compares it to modern day slavery and escaping it through ownership, despite the “get up on your own feet” attitude by the that has been. Mike’s ethos is all about beating the odds and making his own rules, which he claims over some fancy piano riffs and a solid hook from Eryn Allen Kane, though 6lack’s more understated verse kills the energy a bit. Attitudes get more unfortunate on “TALK’N That SH*T!” where Mike genuinely drops homophobic lines and “wake up, go broke.” It’s even more crushing because DJ Paul’s concept of rapping over three separate beats is great, and Mike brings some awesome flow switches to the table. “SLUMMER” is the best narrative track on the album, as Mike is immersed in his teenage years and the financial and religious pressures of neighborhood romance when it comes to an accidental pregnancy. With harmonies from Jagged Edge, Mike’s “they call it adolescence because you’re learning adult lessons” is an inspired beat.

The single “SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS” is an Avengers-level team-up of Atlanta’s finest, but for a track with a feature list that includes Andre 3000 and Future, you wish it all clicked together a bit more. From the background gospel chorus to the beeps and bloops of a synth beat that doesn’t quite line up with the chords or the backbeat, Andre 3000’s verse is as technically outstanding as ever, but it gets a little lost in the shuffle of the bizarre instrumental. When a simple snare beat finally appears during Mike’s verse to anchor things, it’s a bit too late. Even against the legends, it’s clear that Mike will never let anyone out-rap him on one of his songs. “SPACESHIP VIEWS” sees him go head-to-head with Curren$yy 2 Chainz, who hold their ground on a hard-hitting trap hit before Mike demolishes his verse yet again – it’s Kaash Paige’s psychedelic hook that launches things. off slightly this time. “TWO DAYS” is a shorter track where Mike harnesses a plaintive guitar riff to stomp like an elephant, once again showcasing exciting mixes of his influences as church organ and choirs add up behind the heavy instrumental. – Ty Dolla $ign joins the congregation with some vocal moments that are even better than what we usually hear from him. “EXIT 9” might get buried in the track list, but it should be here, as one of the best songs calls for champagne and Mike reminisces about his minimum wage days with a boom-bap beat and funky guitar tremolos, it’s a Endlessly fun and well-produced flexible track of the highest order.

Mike saves some of his more serious content for the end of the album, in an incredibly strong final run. “SOMETHING FOR JUNKIES” is based on a connection a young Mike made with an aunt struggling with addiction that brought them together by seeing the humanity in everyone, something Mike now applies to his business practices as he fights for equality and rights. fair wages. the situation of a worker matters. Featured artist Fabo raises the energy even higher with some passionate screams and a piano-backed thematic transition to the next tune, “MOTHERLESS.” The first time Mike has apparently admitted out loud that his mother had passed away, it is a dedication to the woman who raised him as she speaks directly to him and tells him of all the things he has accomplished since she left. It’s great to hear him toast her as an inspiration to her fighting spirit, and Eryn Allen Kane’s emotional vocals take things to the next level. For someone who’s always in your face, Mike calming his voice ever so slightly and sounding like he’s persevering through debilitating pain is very impactful. “DON’T LET THE DEVIL” is a triumphant reunion of RTJ with an incredible choppy soul beat from El-P, and for all the great instruments on this project, it’s clear that these two do their best work together. “HIGH AND HOLY” closes it out with a final affirmation of faith from Mike over another cozy, complex gospel-funk instrumental and more Ty Dolla $ign harmonies.

We’ve known this for a while, but this album cycle has increasingly shown that, for all the ways he’s been so outspoken over the years, Killer Mike is an extremely complex and complicated figure with many stories. to tell. to explain how and why he became that way. While his inconsistencies get in the way a few times here, when it comes to his abilities, there aren’t many that touch this guy.

Favorite songs: MOTHERLESS, SHED TEARS, EXIT 9, SLUMMER, DON’T LET THE DEVIL

Least Favorite Song: SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS

Score: 7/10

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