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Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music

Killer Mike has become something of an enigma in today’s hip-hop landscape. The rap veteran actually has a message in his music. In a time of continued turmoil, the genre’s releases haven’t reflected the uncertainty facing the majority of people in the country, instead highlighting partying that allow listeners to indulge in escapism. The Atlanta native is back with his sixth album, R.A.P. Music—with production handled entirely by El-P—where he proves saying something doesn’t have to come at the expense of countrified good time.

R.A.P. Music starts like it ends: with Killer Mike spitting like his life’s on the line. On the LP’s opener, “Big Beast,” Mike slings rhymes furiously, refusing to be out-shined by heavyweight guests Bun B, T.I. and newcomer Trouble. “Hardcore G shit, homie I don’t play around/Ain’t shit sweet about the Peach, this Atlanta clown/Home of the dealers and the strippers and the clubs, though/Catch you coming out of Magic City with a snub, ho,” the rhymer raps—and that’s only within the first 11 seconds of the track. He then delivers 1:54 of absolute lyrical heat on “Go,” tearing up the instrumental, while “Southern Fried” has Mike taking listeners on a smooth ride through Georgia.

“Reagan” finds Bigga inspecting the way the former President’s term in office changed the landscape of politics in this country, as well as how that trickled down to Black communities and hip-hop. “It seems our people starve from lack of understanding/’Cause all we seem to give them is some ballin’ and some dancin’,” he posits on the dark track. On “Anywhere But Here,” he turns on the narrative switch, placing himself in New York City and Atlanta, recounting the struggle that some face as societal pressures close in around them.

Killer Mike’s ability to rap with a purpose while remaining tactful and balanced within his content is an engaging quality of his music, and the pairing with El-P serves his sound well. The compilation is short—12 tracks—but if fans are looking for relentless lyrics in their R.A.P. Music, this ATL MC remains a Killer on the mic. —Mark Lelinwalla

  • Killer Mike

    Thanks Mark and Great Write up. My quest for an XXL continues! LOL! Salute

  • 2da9thpwr

    Why an L for beats though. Pitchfork rated this best new music for a reason which included the beats..

  • El-P

    only an l for beats? this is one of the best produced albums in satan knows how long

  • derek

    An L for beats? come on son. These beats are ridiculous, and mike’s ferocity on the mic match the crazy beats el-p produces. This album is an XXl album easily.

  • TruthBeTold

    WTF? how does this only get an l for beats? are you fucking retarded, xxl? especially after you give NOBODIES and half assed trap beats xl all the time.

    • PoloPerv

      Amen. Production on this album demolishes 98.74% of every other album XXL throws an xl, or even xxl at.

  • derek

    XXL is basically the new source. Truthbetold is right on the money. Nearly every generic down south artist has the same uninspired production. Mike and el came out with a big sound that you can listen to loudly in the ride or soak up every nuance in the headphones. This album and El’s solo joint are easy XXL produced albums. WTF?

  • Industry Advocate

    I am a long time Killer Mike fan, and I have to agree, the beats are the weakness of this album! I’m not saying they’re wack, they just don’t hold up to the FIRE & BRIMSTONE that Killer Mike is bringing on this album! It’s like being HULK in a Straw House. Other than that, the rest deserves a XXL, another Masterpiece from the A-Town Don! Cali’ Salute!

  • bailey

    this album is a xxl if i ever heard one …

    el-p’s shit is different but his shit is bangin though.
    and i think killer mike put in a performance that hasn’t been matched on a album … ever.

  • tthz

    just looking at the garbage that has gotten an XL rating on this site (which is a lot) alone merits this album a XXL. its a damn shame such a refreshing new sound by an artist spitting shit that makes you actually think gets a downgraded rating most likely due to its lack of commercial accessibility. its like the XXL rating standards are so high but the XL rating standards are ridiculously low. well done, guys.

  • fred

    @tthz Hell, I could Go back one page and look at the albums that got Xl’s in the past couple of weeks, B.O.B, NWC(who?), Jon Conner ( dope mc, but snooze worthy prod) all get XL. Who cares about commercial success, this album gets back to what made me love hip hop 30 years ago, dope beats, dope rhymes, dope concepts and flawless execution. XXL for sure.

  • Ingle Woods

    no taste, an L for beats? The beats on this album are crazy

  • nquestion

    When will you Hip-hop heads get it top-notch material doesn’t warrant a XXL its about how the public perceives it as a whole and how its promoted that makes it a classic so please quit begging for xxl’s its not gonna happen !!!!

  • J. R. De Leon

    should’ve been XXL…with all the ish being dropped today this stands out in a huge way!! It’s good to hear Hip-Hop with a message!

  • Andrew

    This review isn’t whack or anything but L for the beats?! Really?!
    Killer Mike is the shit but the so are the beat man. El-p is a great producer and this shit is dope.

  • Yamz

    An L for beats? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. El-P is one of the most talented hip-hop producers EVER (overlooked genius like Madlib).

    Also, how do you not mention the illest song on the album – Don’t Die? The way the beats change – Incredible.

    Fuck XXL

  • Rob

    L for beats haha yea right. This is easily one of the best albums I herd in a long time. Lyrics and music wise.

  • samford

    @nquestion- So a classic is based on public perception and promotion? Man, to bad that view point is the exact opposite of what makes hip hop so unique and so good. I could give a damn about public perception and promotion, that ain’t hip hop son. This album is without a doubt XXL worthy. I haven’t heard anything this year that is as dope as this.

  • bailey

    “its about how the public perceives it as a whole and how its promoted that makes it a classic” …

    AHHHHHAHAHAHAHAH!!! … i can’t tell if this dude is being serious or makin fun of XXL’s retarded ratings. if its the latter well done … the former and you get a killer mike “ARE YOU F*CKING RETARDED?!? i’m not even gonna tell you how stupid you are cus you should already know”/thats life

  • igotacos

    classic. XXL 4 sure. sorry xxl, yu fuckin up

  • FU_PayME

    To me this is the best album of the year so far hands down. Yeah I agree with everybody that’s saying the production deserves an extra large. It far exceded my expectations. The beats are dope, but they don’t over shadow Mike. This is by far his best album and I like alot of his stuff, but him and el-p made a 5 star album. And I’m not giving it 5 cuz I like it. This is a dope ass album. If you ain’t heard it. Hear it.

  • PrickJames

    @Mike & El…

    You guys still looking for a just review from these nitwits?? The fact they never solved the ‘half-mike’ dynamic let me know that XXL doesn’t quite understand how to do this review thang [plus they got the Sause's fear of 'FIVE']…

    HHDX gave ya’ll 41/2 out of five… more credible(?) reviewers IMO.

  • PoloPerv

    This shit is Amerikkka’s Most Wanted for the 22nd century. Giving this album the same rating as recent efforts by Diggy, Wiz Khalifah, and Ace Hood is ridiculous. You should be embarrassed XXL.

  • nquestion

    Dude sounds just like Ice Cube but the cut “Reagan” is a must hear he did his thing there !!!!

  • Vyokeh

    RAP Music. No other way to define the album

  • Luke Cannataro

    How do the beats get an L, they should be XXL, this is probably the best produced album of the year

  • deez nuts

    lol do anything original these days and motherfuckers say it’s weak. beats are far too advanced for xxl. congratulations xxl….you are officially mediocre idiots.