Killer Mike  - R.A.P. Music

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What unites this unlikely pair is an aggressive, calculating, take-no-prisoner approach to Hip Hop, which is materialized in their group album, "R.A.P. Music."

For over a decade, Killer Mike has made a living with a mixture of a booming delivery, social consciousness, and Southern sensibility. Meanwhile, El-P has remained a fixture in the independent scene, while wearing many hats (emcee, producer, label head). What unites this unlikely pair is an aggressive, calculating, take-no-prisoner approach to Hip Hop, which is materialized in their group album, R.A.P. Music.

“Big Beast” is a Molotov cocktail to the face, and fittingly serves as the album’s intro. Though the posse cut has been floating around the internet for quite some time, Killer Mike’s devastating presence makes every listen feel like the first. “Welcome to Atlanta—up your jewelry, motherfucka! / These monkey niggas looking for some Luda and Jermaine / And all a nigga found was a Ruger and some pain!” snarls Mike Bigga, who channels some awesome combination of Ice Cube and M.O.P. to Bun B and T.I. don’t slouch on the cut either, dropping some of their most menacing bars in some time. There’s not a line wasted or not worth quoting, and El-P’s stabbing synths perfectly punctuate each emcee’s rhymes.

A shining example of the breadth and effectiveness of Mike’s rhetoric is found in the outro on “Untitled”: “I don’t trust the church or the government / Democrat, republicans, Pope or a bishop, or them other men / And I believe God has sustained me with rap / So I take a burning bush, put it in a Swisher wrap / And they can’t kill a G, I seen how I die / I’m only going once, a coward dies a thousand times / And till that chariot come and take a nigga home / I’ma spit this ghetto gospel over all these gutter songs / I’m gone.” Despite the fact that he touches on matters such as politics and religion—and perhaps takes controversial stances on them—Mike is instantly relatable; anyone who’s ever felt the sting of empty promises from hollow leadership can see themselves uttering Mike’s words.

As much credit as Mike deserves for R.A.P. Music’s consistent excellence, El-P deserves the same. The production on the album is as hardcore as anything El Producto has ever done, but simultaneously much more accessible. Further, he and Mike are in perfect concert. Whether it’s accenting Mike’s “pows!” in “Big Beast,” or dropping a beat to make a line hit the listener with extra gravitas, El-P knows exactly how to optimize the intended aesthetic of every track. Check the southern funk on “Southern Fried,” or the minimalist approach on “Jojo’s Chillin,’” which allows Mike to take the forefront as he flexes his storytelling muscle. Perhaps the prime example of the duo’s chemistry is “Reagan,” which evolves in its intensity while Mike drops sociopolitical commentary. It appears that, like Ice Cube with the Bomb Squad, Killer Mike has found his production ace in the hole. As was the case with Cube, Mike’s new production partner doesn’t have him abandoning his sound; rather, El-P enhances it.

There’s no doubt—R.A.P. Music is the best Southern Rap album since Big Boi’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. Further, R.A.P. contains someone of the most thoughtful, well-executed commentary (both in style and substance) found in music since the days of Rage Against the Machine. Throughout his career, Mike has steadily carved out an NWA-esque balance between lyrics that stick to your ribs and lyrics that smack you in the face. With El-P as its catalyst, R.A.P. Music puts Mike on display has he doles out unheard levels of indignation, fury, and passion.

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114 Comments

  • AR

    This the type of MC that southern rap fans need get behind.

  • Anonymous

    best rapper ace hood

  • CP reid

    This shit has a higher rating than Life After Death. what the fuck.

  • ekvr

    Lyricism at it's best.

  • hook13

    Outstanding hip hop album. channels all the 90's hardcore rap classics without over taking them. I put it top 3 album this year behind good kid and life is good

  • Pegasus Flow

    Not his best but still so tough. But for the people saying its trash, SMH dumbasses

    • Sonny Rene

      This is easily his best album as far as I'm concerned and I think I'm speaking for the majority of sane people when I say that.

  • brian

    top 10 rappers from the south 10.jarren benton 9.yealawolf 7.chamillionaire 6.t.i. 5.bun b 4.killer mike 3.big k.r.i.t 2. jay electronica 1. j.cole those are the current top 10 southern rappers with talent

  • annon

    Not 4.5 worth please people stop riding his d. im a bigtime fan but still this should be a 4/5

  • Dylann17

    Definitely one of the best albums this year. 5 Stars.

  • Anonymous

    Killer Mike keeps building album after album mixtape after mixtape He's proving he is the best unretired mc.

  • GFKjunior

    A phenomenal album. Recommended for every rap fan.

  • Lizardpimp

    Damn, it's a shame an album this dope won't be heard by everyone who needs to hear it. Was looking forward to KRIT, but this is some focussed shit.

  • Wu Tang Forever

    very dope album amazing year for hip hop so far with conrol system and live from the underground

  • Anonymous

    Dope record, not for you tight jeans wearing suckas

  • mdkeren2

    BELOW on every new video article and basically any new piece of content

  • i rated this 1/5

    This entire album is weak.

  • garbage music not rap music

    this album was so wack to me actually deleted it off my cpu. Every song was wack. This is the wackest, cornyest rap music iv ever heard in my life. 1 star. This album is stupid lame. These ppl talkn about "this a classic" no this is trash

  • BORING AS MUDDAFUCK

    NO BANGERS AT ALL?? FUGG IS DIZ SHIIZZZ 1 sta out a 5 niqqa

  • Emmy Tones

    album of the year thus far...

  • Jamies Sessions

    If there's a better hip hop record this year, we're in for a treat. best hip hop record sinced MBDTF. Hip Hop AOTD contender

  • Anonymous

    Album of the year definately

  • Anonymous

    HEEELL Y EEEZZZ NIKKKAS FINALLY IT HAPPENED - JUST BOUGHT A NEW RIDE - A CAM A RO CONVERTIBLE.GOT APPROVED FOR 26 LARGE. BEEN 5 YRS SINCE IVE GOTTEN SHYT APPROVED, BUT NOW ALL MY CRE DIT ISHH IS GONE. ALL OF IT. IF YOU STRUGGLING WITH THAT CRE DIT HISTORY ISHH, GET RID OF ALL DAT TODAY - CALL THESE PEEPS AT 8--8--8-9-2-7 -3-3-5-6 . . THEY DO AMAZING WORK AND THEY ARE CHEAP AS FUQQ. GOT RID OF ALL MY SHYYT IN NO TIME. MY HOMEBOY WAS IN THE GUTTA TOO, AND HE CLEANER THAN ME NOW-gettin a condo!! Hit em up - THEY WILL HELP U!!

  • Anonymous

    i cannot get this cd out of my head..i now hateeee lil wayne..this IS real rap music and im sooo happy its here:)

  • Hidden By Leaves

    El & Mike are about to tour these two exceptional pieces of work, don't be a house ninja.

  • EDITORNCHIEF

    @Anonymous:Dude got some wack opinons on music! You funny how you think people give a fuck about what you think! You fake ass wanna be reviewer!

  • mattcudi

    A very well put together album. I didnt know K.M. could spit so hard

  • camplo195

    Best album so far this year.

  • Anonymous

    not my kinda music

  • Gentillyboy

    Get this shit ,that as all

  • Anonymous

    This album is so incredible. One of the best Hip Hop albums I heard in a hot minute. Growing up in the golden era I really appreciate this shit.

  • futuristik

    yo this album is real as fuck and important. both these artists always been mad creative, and for them to decide to do this shit together was genius. the beats are hard and super interesting and the rap is interesting and super hard. i hope everyone hears this shit and sees these amazing and inventive mothafuckas still don't care much for this review, it's weird and it ain't no damn good. hiphopdx, u ain't no damn good

  • Anonymous

    BombSquadesque LP by Mike Bigga!!!!!!

  • Tclems da rap geniouz

    yooooo, pritty sikk. Fan of El-P way b4 this album, If anyone accuses him of trying to use a dubstep or techno style then die yo. Not many stand out tracks to me, 'Don't Die' is one of the sickest new releases I've heard in maaaad long do. No bad tracks tho, pce

  • Wayne

    4.5 star album, already one of the best albums of the year.

  • youngvito79

    Great album by a real artist..

  • note to REAL RAPPERS

    contact el-p and see if he'll produce your album. guy is an assassin on the beats. genius. killer mike. mashed it. 5 stars. real rap. makes you remember how powerful rap is as an artform. look at the front page of this website. savor this.

  • Rick Deckard

    great job! luv it!

  • H2L

    I honestly believe this album will grow to be a classic.

  • Sonny Rene

    this should definitely be a 5... instant classic.

  • Anonymous

    It's rare that I rate but uh... 5/5

  • pledge

    This guy make great hiphop,all his albums are fire and unlike most of these retards on the track he got shit to say and shit that means something.

  • stevep

    5/5 all day! track 7 is the cut! "real bad guy shit!" i love the writers comparison to cube and bomb squad. i ve been telling friends thats the sound to expect since they first spoke about doing the record, love it.

  • dark man x

    I'm enjoying the album. Production and Raps are on point. I"m in musical bliss.

  • ianism

    the passion. the work ethic. the attention to detail. they nailed them all. 5

  • AtlantaZoneBoy

    Killa Killa from MF Adamsville! This is what I'm talking about homie! Hardest rapper out of Atlanta 5/5

  • Anonymous

    1. R.A.P 2. Kicking & Screaming 3. Klusterfuk 4. 4eva N a Day 5. Cancer4Cure

  • ben

    Easiest 5/5 until El-P's solo comes out next week

  • hachitori

    This album is a testament to the way that perhaps the best rap album ever made inflicted the most damage on the art of album crafting. By legitimizing the use of multiple producers, Illmatic opened the door to a generation of schizophrenic albums. The production in R.A.P. Music becomes a soundscape in the hands of EL-P. I hope this marks a resurgence of dedicated producer/mc relationships.

    • Anonymous

      ASAP Rocky, while nobody's ideal of an intellectually inspired spitter, put together a cohesive album using multiple producers by having a unified aesethetic sense going into the project.

    • NJ

      I really don't think there is anything wrong with using multiple producers on an album, sure it's great to have cohesion but sometimes that comes at the expense of diversity (Not this album though), fact of the matter is that both methods can produce brilliant results and both can produce awful, I hope Hip Hop continues to split between the two techniques. I mean this year alone there have been plenty of brilliant examples, This, Trophies and 4EvaNaDay all produced by one person respectively and all were better for it. But then look at Ab-Soul & Schoolboy's albums, both produced by multiple producers and both were extremely diverse whilst cohesive. I hate people who boil Hip Hop's problems down to personal preferences like this.

    • ianism

      this is also the fault of major record labels and ANRs looking for a hot single that will appeal to 'all' audiences. but yeah. if you're an mc doing a 'solo' album, the whole point of it being solo is that you pick the beats. so they get their advance and pick beats they like instead of working with someone who actually knows about good production. but this is encouraged by the labels too. it's not like making the album is all in the hands of the artist these days. look what happened to lupe...

    • TruthBeTold

      CO FUCKING SIGN I've been saying that to my peoples for a minute, almost word for word. The reason Illmatic worked so well is because even tho it was diffrent producers, they were all somewhat similar in that the core of their work was Sample Based Boom Bap East Coast production. These cats nowadays be like "New album time, lets call The Neptunes, Dr Dre, DJ Premier, Timbaland, Lex Luger, Lil Jon, Pete Rock, DJ Quik & Just Blaze..... Oh, wait a minute, Hit Boy is hot right now, we gotta get him too!!" and the album winds up a mis-matched piece of shit, lol Heads need to, if not one producer, work with a few who at least compliment each other well

  • Hidden By Leaves

    Review is on point, this release is nothing short of brilliance. Rarely do we find this much substance in a southern rapper and El-Producto tailored it perfectly without forcing the emcee too far out of his comfort zone while still pushing his songwriting abilities. 5*

  • Mike Bigga

    A MasterPiece of Artwork. It grows on one instantly. twist a vine and recline to this one. hip hop yes.

  • JZ

    I wasn't sure how El-P and Killer Mike would match up but they killed it. Bigga is one of the most underrated rappers of our generation and I hope he gets his due.

  • phuckyall

    Dope as a muhphucka!!

  • Leezy O.

    Album of the year !!! And even best album of the last 3 or 4 years !!! Goddamn !! They did it !! It's a classic !! In ten years it will be considered as a legendary album !! Impressive !!!

  • Vocab

    Absolute Instant Classic. Words dont do it justice. This album deserves to sell like crazy.

  • MP

    This album is CRAZY!!!! I agree with the review for now, but my feelings may change, & this album may deserve 5 stars later. 4.5 [for now]! I'm feeling this one definitely more than the AB Soul album...real talk!

  • Anonymous

    clifford!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jay Stay's Paid

    I don't know if this album will ever get the respect it deserves. But for me this is an instant classic. I probably broke the repeat on "Untitled" and "Don't Die". Fuck if I did I'd get it fixed and break it again. "Ghetto Gospel"... Man this is absolutely a dope album. Ill lyrics and El-P if they was sleeping on him before. Don't sleep on this. Put y'all on game. Just when I thought it couldn't get better then this... I check El-P/Cancer4cure. If his shit ain't better it's just as good. Been listening to Mike but hands down this is his best work and El-P my new favorite producer. Check out that Cancer4cure. I'm about to listen again. Str8 CRACK!

  • Anonymous

    Dope album, def one of the best Southern albums released within the past 2 years.

  • Anonymous

    I love this album because Mike's voice and El's beats are really powerful. The majority of these songs kinda punch you in the face with brashness yet, they contain interesting content and subject matter. The sound of this album gives you a rallying sense of rebellion against the "system" which fits the R(ebellious) A(frican) P(eople) theme. ALL of the songs are very well done all the way down to the synergy between Mike's voice and El's beats. This gives sort of a new school Ice Cube feel with a New York style and a southern flair. 4.5/5

  • oohchild

    Dope album, I love JoJo's Chillin. Mike's best album to date. Extremely impressive album from him as an artist

  • caliph95

    This made me a killer mike and el-p fan

  • greg

    this album review was plagiairised by Navani Oterio

  • WiseGuy

    Dope production, decent raps they just dont sound good together. K Mike sounds super out of place over El-p beats... what can i say... WG

  • ShadowPrecinct

    Album is great. Definitely a breath of fresh air. Mike and El-P are an unlikely, but dope combination. Mike goes to hard on that Reagan joint. Sweet Jeebus.

  • Anonymous

    will check it out after reading this review

  • timmm

    album is great. can't wait for El-P's new solo, the dude is a production genius. I'll Sleep When You're Dead was a tripped-out masterpiece. Glad to hear Killer Mike really shine on some production outside of the typical southern fare. Hopefully he does some more experimental shit in the future.

    • iso

      Man this Killer Mike is awesome. Just wait you gonna trip when you hear El-P's new shit. It's just as good if not better.

  • Anonymous

    El-P !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5/5

  • Anonymous

    The illest collabo of the year with the OC & Apollo Brown project!!!! Hip Hop is reborn support it or die listenin' to Drake fuckers lmfao

  • buckeyewu

    Finally we are at that point of the year in which the fire is released. This album is no exception. Dope! This album contains a lot of energy. Killer Mike can rap with any dope producer. I thought he could before, but now I'm convinced. I would love to hear El-P produce a Danny Brown album.

  • Mitch 3K

    I usually hate comparisons but the Ice Cube/ Bomb Squad one fits here. Great job on both their parts

  • hippaToDaHoppa

    dope album. I was skeptical of the combination at first, but it came together nearly perfectly.

  • Tone

    Some of the best content I've heard in years. Sounds like some old Ice T or Public Enemy. Very impressed with Killer Mike, one of the best albums you'll hear with all this new ringtone music out. Everyone needs to buy it or at least download it.

  • Anonymous

    Album is a definate winner. Who'd of thought EL-P (The King of the Backpackers) & Killer Mike (The Angriest black southern MC since Willie D) would've sounded this great together??

  • yo

    Accurate review. One of the best albums I've heard in a long time. Shame the CDs are back-ordered on Amazon.