Killa Kyleon
Natural Born Killa

Beats: L
Lyrics: L
Originality: M

On the Boss Hogg Outlawz’s 2007 debut, Serve & Collect, Killa Kyleon separated himself from the pack by dropping memorable verses about holding rank in his hometown of Houston. Now trying to make his mark without Slim Thug’s cosign, Kyleon’s latest mixtape, Natural Born Killa, offers an interesting albeit repetitive glimpse into his rap persona.

The message on NBK is clear: Kyleon is a product of the streets. He says as much on the intro, “Gangsta,” where he flips a sample from the movie Goodfellas on the hook, namedrops a number of the world’s most notorious gangster figures and compares himself to them. The theme resurfaces on “Street Life,” as he spits about the trials and tribulations about making it out of the ’hood. And on “Dope Boy,” Kyleon lifts the beat from Gucci Mane’s “Classical” and raps, “New Rich Porter, I’m feelin’ like Meech/Runnin’ shit like Smitty, I’m deep in the streets.”

Once you pull back the top layer, Kyleon doesn’t have a whole lot left to say. From money (“Toccarra”) to hustlin’ (“Thug”) to the street life (“I Live It”), he quickly exhausts his limited subject matter without digging any deeper. It also doesn’t help that, outside of tracks like “Swang Real Wide,” featuring Z-Ro, NBK doesn’t contain the strong production efforts afforded to Kyleon when he was riding with the Boss Hoggs.

Fortunately, the sample-driven “Nuthin 2 A Hustler,” features Kyleon proving he’s capable of creating more personal songs. On a tape filled with generic gangster tales, it’s a welcome addition. And if he opens himself up to creating more tracks like it in the future, the self-proclaimed Natural Born Killa should have enough ammo to capture the solo success he desires. —Chris Yuscavage