From the get-go, it’s clear that R.A.P. Music isn’t a slouching ambassador of what rap should be. Maybe it’s fellow MC El-P’s distinctive waxed-on production or maybe it’s the Bow Down feeling Killer Mike dusts off in his Ice Cube-ruthless rout of the record’s opener “Big Beast”; nonetheless, the Georgia-raised veteran isn’t afraid to be indomitable. Clutching a cold street-mentality to his chest, Mike shuffles between rhythmic taps (“Untitled”, “Jo Jos Chillin”) and roots-laden passion (“Southern Fried”), triggering philosophical pieces which convey an urge to be commanding. Granted, there are setbacks; deep into R.A.P. Music, sonics and drum/synth patterns tend to consume Mike’s enthusiasm and more open moments, but when mixes like “Butane (Champions Anthem)” and “Anywhere But Here” connect, you can instantly hear and feel the impact. Somewhere inside the echo of that contact is where Killer Mike makes hip hop a functional platform again for thoughts and words. It isn’t easy to become familiar with that sense of hope, but his technical proficiency opens the door and leaves it wide open.
Download: “Go”, “Butane (Champions Anthem”), “Big Beast”
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