Review: Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music

Political music in any genre has always been looked upon with a certain amount of scorn - naive illiberality has always been common, especially in hip-hop. The African American enlightenment has plagued the genre since day one, so it wouldn't be foolish to look at Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music as a love letter to the genre from which it gets its title rather than a political work. Surprisingly,  the album's intentions are relatively humble but Killer Mike's adoration for Rap music shines through stronger and more passionately than any of his lyrics to do with affairs of the state.

Produced by the accomplished El-P (Jamie Meline), the album spans twelve tracks of incredible beats, synths and melodies. 'Big Beast', the album's opener which has a near ten-minute video to accompany it, almost instantly showcases El-P's drive, but not before Mike's somewhat abrasive and forceful style is introduced. He's not the kind of rapper who prides himself on flow. El-P's beats are obviously created around Mike's intensity with an energetic beat popping up on numerous occasions throughout the track. The following two tracks are equally as loud with 'Go!' clocking in at only one minute and fifty-four seconds yet packing a mighty punch not only through Mike's piercing raps but through El-P's sharp scratching.'Southern Fried' is a testament from Mike as to his Southern pride. "Country-fried, bonafide", Mike raps, reminding us that he is Southern to the core.

'Raegan' is where the politically-tinged nature of the album really shines through. Opening with a Ronald Reagan denial of guilt in the Iran-Contra affair, the song quickly turns to Reagan's evident and admitted guilt, showing a hypocrisy on the part of the 40th President of the United States. Speaking of hypocrisy, Mike's motives are quite contradictory throughout the album, with religious rhymes a constant feature only to later reveal that he himself is not religious at all. Rather, the closing track highlights a curious anti-religiousness in Mike's being. Whatever the case may be, the music here is, as expected from El-P, classy and richly atmospheric. The verses are rife with clever and disconcerting nuances. "I'm Glad Reagan Dead" has got to be one of the boldest and memorable lines in all of rap music - never have political motives been delivered with such confidence and vigor.

'Ghetto Gospel' is the only real stumble in this consistently brilliant album. The hook isn't anywhere near up to par as the others, nor the beats. R.A.P. Music's closing tracks are much more modest and subdued in comparison, but the combination of 'Anywhere but Here', 'Willie Burke Sherwood' and 'R.A.P. Music' are easily the best moments on the album. The former features almost angelic vocals from Emily Panic - its rolling synths are accompanied by Mike's first mellow raps and Panic's chilling vocals.

Where this album becomes truly great is on the incredible and poetic closer, 'R.A.P. Music'. It is evident from this album that Killer Mike does not trust the government. For Mike, Rap music is a spiritual experience - his own personal saviour. "What I say might save a life, what I speak might save the street" Mike raps, riding El-P's synths and beats gloriously. But this song isn't just about Rap music - it's about every genre birthed or mastered by the African race - Mike name drops pioneers of Blues, Jazz, Rock. Coltrane, Hendrix, Franklin, Simone - the passion is humbling, quite frankly.

What R.A.P. Music does best is pour passion through the music and rhymes in abundance - from the political undertones to the racial connotations, the fervor in Mike's raps are elegant and classy - his unpretentious love  for his genre and his people is what makes this album great. El-P's production skills are masterful and it's hard not to envy them, but Mike's desire is what steals the show.


Monday, 26 November 2012

Powered by Blogger.