He may be a around 6’5″ and 300 pounds with a prefix of “Killer” on his name, but Mike is as friendly as a teddy bear if you ever happen to come across him in the A. Put a mic in front of the man’s face and you find out quick fast how he got that prefix as he raps like a hungry, caged grizzly bear. Mike is as ferocious as they come on the mic, with the command and presence reminiscent of Chuck D or Ice Cube. Just like those legends, Killer Mike is determined to enlighten the ghetto, albeit in his own way. The former Outkast disciple is more Saigon than Immortal Technique; there is plenty of sugar to help the medicine go down on his latest venture I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II.

“10 G’s,” complete with its chopped and screwed Biggie sample, serves as a great appetizer for the rest of the LP. Killer delves into the deeper content with his double time flow on “Can You Hear Me”; “okay yeah, like most black males/I done made my fair share of crack sales/how could you not want to see me prevail?/how could you wanna see me locked in jail?/how could you ignore my people in hell?/in Adamsville, in Mechanicsville/how could you take all our honor and jobs/and expect us not to steal and to rob/…/so we took the crack and put it in rap/now your kids is high off that.”

Mike teams up with rhyming hero Ice Cube for “Pressure,” and it’s a politically charged joint as you may expect. Mike puts the Killer in his name in the final verse when he gets really vicious. It also sounds like it was would have fit better on Cube‘s last album than this one given the production. Another like-minded emcee in Chamillionaire joins Mike for some shit talking one of the albums biggest tracks, “Big Money, Big Cars.” “God Is In The Building” is that ghetto gospel that would make Pac proud; “god emcee boy, ex d-boy/only thing real in a room full of decoys/angel wings got a nigga fly higher/I hope my success burn you like hellfire/I hope seeing me with cars dressed fresh, torments your ass like a man possessed.”

Mike continues Outkast‘s “Art of Storytelling” with the underworld classic “City of Dope.” While it’s a great song, it’s a questionable closer to the album. “If I Can’t Eat Right,” Mike‘s motivational seminar, is the obvious closer in my opinion. Much like at the end of his classic “That’s Life,” Mike is as good preaching to the listeners as he is rapping to them; “Ask you a question, how you finna go to bed right now when you gonna wake up in the morning broke? How you gonna go to bed right now knowing that your kids gonna wake up hungry?…Get about your money man, if you knew better you would do better man. If you knew how much you was worth you would ask for more than you get. You understand me?”

You’ll be hard pressed to find complaints about I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II. Sure, it could have finished better and a couple songs wouldn’t have been sorely missed (“You See It,” “I’m The Shit”), but this is a pretty easy front to back listen. While there is certainly a lot of dead presidents talk, Mike spends more time telling you how to get it than telling you what he’s got. Unlike many of his regional counterparts who are only concerned about telling you how they shine and all the rocks in their palm, Mike is unquestionably looking out for his people; even when he takes that route. There are few rappers in Hip Hop today that the game truly needs; Killer Mike is one of them.