The beginning of 2012 has been an odd time for Pill. To start off the year, after admitting frustration with his label, the braided rapper copped to having never actually been signed to Maybach Music Group. He and the crew parted ways, and though the words have been kind on both sides, the story and controversy have dominated the conversation on Pill. With the release of his mixtape The Epidemic, though, the Atlanta native does his best to bring the external focus back onto his music.

On the DJ Holiday-hosted project, Pill again artfully exhibits that he’s most comfortable making two kinds of songs: on one end, there are his tales of the trap; on the other, he becomes open and introspective.

He proves capable in both arenas, with cuts like “I’m So Player” and “Down For My Niggaz” detailing precisely what the titles indicate. But it is on his personal songs, where he reveals elements of uncertainty and doubt, that Pill truly thrives. The chilling sincerity on “Why It Gotta Be Like Dis (Mama),” a tribute to his late mother, can connect on a deep level with a listener from any walk of life. Cuts like “All On Me,” “It’s So Hard” and the closer, “Head To Da Sky,” combine struggle and inspiration, painting Pill as a hood dude who's always ready to view his circumstances on a more thoughtful and open level than many ("I drown my pain in champagne at the clubs a lot/Reading books on life trying to figure what the fuck it's 'bout/The complication seems to build when you tryna make it/They in your ear screamin' 'Pill,' but on the side they hatin'," he kicks on "It's So Hard").

With his current situation, P-I Double L will probably have to put some more mixtapes under his belt before he finally releases his debut album, The Medicine. If they remain on par with The Epidemic, though, then that's quite alright. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)