Rap royalty has been a frequent point of discussion in 2011. Jay-Z and Kanye West made the case that the throne is theirs. Drake feels like the throne is for the taking. On his latest mixtape, Baltimore bred MC Los is out to show fans and fellow rhymers that, since he's around, The Crown Ain't Safe.

Los has made a habit of dropping mixtapes in recent years, including delivering Worth The Wait in July, consisting of cuts that wouldn't make this release. Beginning to come into his own with that project, the 27-year-old has found his footing here. Those who have heard previous work from Los understand that his knack for wordplay, coupled with a frenzied flow, have been in his pocket for a while. On this DJ Drama and DJ ill Will hosted project, though, not only does he forcefully prove that he's an elite lyricist, but he's also able to craft concepts and employ ideas that give the tape a fuller body. Songs like “Never Say Never,” “Biggest Fan,” and “Make You Proud” (including a verse from DMX) demonstrate Los beginning to find his footing, not just as a lyrically inclined rhymer, but as a rapper who can make songs, too.

He's not all the way there, and some of the concepts themselves may be predictable (just look at those titles), but the former Bad Boy signee makes them sustainable with his slick lines; at the end of the day, the lyrics remain his forte. With that, there are still plenty of songs where the focus is to make the rewind button jam, as he locks in on cuts like “King Los,” “Shine,” and “Finally Here.”

It's a bit premature for any hardware to be resting on Los's head, but on The Crown Ain't Safe, he's building the army of skills that he'll need to one day mount an overthrow. —Adam Fleischer