It’s been a long time coming for Los. After the release of his The Crown Ain’t Safe mixtape, suitors came from far and wide to sign the DMV flamespitter. Interestingly enough, Los ended up returning to Bad Boy Records in 2012, the label he was previously signed to that failed to utilize his lyrical skillset and cut him lose in 2008. Whether he’ll get a proper push this time around remains to be seen, and on his latest mixtape, Becoming King, Los showcases his talents and takes advantage of some mainstream resources.

Becoming King focuses on the transition period of Los from an underground star to a mainstream artist, though he’s really not there yet. There are heartfelt tales touching on his family, love for music and the trials and tribulations of life. As usual, Los’ strongest asset is an ability to deliver vivid imagery through lyrics and a captivating flow. His best stories often come when he’s alone, (See “My Biz”), so the overabundance of features is at times overwhelming. Collaborations with DMV  natives like Raheem Devaughn or Pusha T come naturally, but the Ludacris and Tank features feel forced.

The production on Becoming King is a smorgasbord of sounds, which keeps the project from honing in on a particular vibe or feel. Nevertheless Harry Fraud’s vicious beat on “Dope,” combining sharp snares with strings is an attention grabber, as is “OD,” produced by Sonny Digital.

Lyrically, Los is as sharp as ever, and the mixtape is a continuation of the verbal assaults he’s known for. He keeps up with Twista on “We Ain’t The Same,” and displays his lyrical acumen on “Pay Up” with bars like “Shit is getting critical, you niggas is getting pitiful/Thinking miniscule, I think they think I’m in the scoop/ No I’m into schoolin’ these foolish cats who bend the rules/If you don’t want the roof to cave in, you gotta bend the rules.” Los has a way of keeping listeners on their toes by setting a furious pace, that challenges listeners to keep up with.

The unnecessary reliance on features and an overall lack of cohesiveness on Becoming King means Los won’t be crowned just yet. But he shows he’s still got the lyrical toolset to become a force in the game as time progresses.—Christian Mordi  (@mordi_thecomeup)