Somewhere among the demand for social equality that you see in Chuck D, the aggressive delivery that DMX had, and Jeezy’s energy, stands Mike Bigga (a/k/a Killer Mike). On PL3DGE he shows off all sides, and brings forth arguably his most complete project to date.
The album begins with the incredible energy that Mike Bigga is known for on “So Glorious.” Lyrics like, “To son me, you gonna have to get a Bun B / Because the Pimp C in me won’t let you punk me” are the type of subtle but dope lyrics that not just honor Mike’s forefathers but forewarn anyone who thinks his allegiance to his grind isn’t 24/7. The very next track, “That’s Life 2” shows Killer Mike at his best as he delves into Oscar Grant’s death, Jesus Christ, and Fox News. The track’s variety of subject matter comes together perfectly and Mike never loses focus. It’s tracks like this that separate Mike from his peers. While artists attempt to brand themselves socially conscious, their inability to create a complete narrative on a subject matter fails them more times than not. Mike shows that he is more Chuck D than most of those who are grasping for that title.
“Burn,” a modern day “By the Time I Get to Arizona” has the potential to cause a riot or start a conversation. Throughout PL3DGE, Killer Mike is comfortable doing either, demonstrating the utter importance of how production needs to match the album’s tone. Sweatbox Productions bring board work that honors Mike’s energy with “Burn” which resonates perfectly with Mike’s political tone. Meanwhile No I.D. continues to show why he is a must have on any album with “Ready Set Go” (and the remix) – providing Mike Bigga with a commercial smash that any emcee would risk a limb for, while staying true to the emcee’s grit. While there are a few missteps with production, such as “God in the Building II” none of them are glaring errors that compromise the artist.
The album at times teeters on the point of greatness. The breathtaking “American Dream” concludes with Mike spitting potent lyrics over just a guitar. Simply put, transcribing them here doesn’t do the emotive quality of the words justice. It’s the type of track that few emcees can pull off and shows the importance of having both a lyrical and microphone presence. The soulful “Everything” takes a Motown sample and maintains its integrity. While Mike’s political clout is well known within Hip Hop circles, braggadocios tracks like “Ric Flair” and “So Glorious” show just how sick Mike is. At first glance “Player’s Lullaby” and the intricately produced “Swimming” seem out of place on Pl3dge. However, it’s only when you look at Bigga’s career objectively that you understand their place on the album. While both cuts have radio potential, they aren’t nearly as potent as works like “Ric Flair” or “Follow Your Dreams”, but what they do accomplish is that they showcase Bigga’s ability to ride a beat with utter smoothness.
PL3DGE erases any doubt that Killer Mike is a one trick pony. So when Mike spits “I’m trying to get a cheaper price, you know a bigger bag/ Mexican work, How American is that / As American as steering in a German car / Fucking a Russian chick snorting coke from Columbia“ he captures a contradiction that speaks to one of his own. Like most great artists, his messages often conflict, but it just adds to his complexity. While artists these days attempt to align with the right or the left or this label or that label, Killer Mike stands amongst the people.