Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #187 - Killer Mike, "R.A.P. Music"

I don't know who Killer Mike is. I'll dig out a bit of info shortly but I want to hear a couple of the tracks first in order to let my first impressions flower. All I have to go on is the track titles (not especially dripping with hate or bullshit as far as I can see) and the cover, which is a kid in classic Golden Age Raybans and Adidas Three Stripe tracksuit. So far, so straightforward.

Opens with "Big Beast" and the track is just that. Fabulous epic guitar squelched into curious shapes at the start of "Country Fried". I find out that he was one of the Outkast peeps, which would explain the thinks on strippers that he keeps spitting on the track. A touch of quasi-falsetto - "Ain't I fresh?/Ain't I clean?/Ain't I ride through the city in the meanest machine?" There's chat about first class travel on "JoJo's Chillin'", but the Eighties grit of the break underneath and the squelches lift it up from the ordinary.

There's a track called "Reagan"! I will be listening to this more than once. Starts with a sample of his Contragate evidence; likey so far. "We should be indicted/For bullshit we inciting/... We are advertisements/For agony and pain... Just like Oliver North introduced us to cocaine/In the Eighties when them bricks came on military planes". Followed up by Ronnie's astonishing attempt to bareface his way out of the shit he'd got himself into; the successful attempt that is. Taking both the bling worship of cheese and green to task and the "War on Drugs" and the interchangeable nature of presidential "talking heads telling lies from teleprompters". There are also kazoos: pretty damned paramilitary, if you ask me.

The production is by El-P, and he should be happy to pump in some extra millenarian dread and paranoia should it be needed. He crops up on "Butane" vocally himself. "Ghetto Gospel" has the Gospel angle weaved sweetly into a scary bubbling Ice T bassline and a bit of a mellow string to underpin a hustler contemplating his Maker and the lifechoices. Sounds like it should be cheese-laden, but it works. "Anywhere But Here" is dark and sparkling like a puddle with petrol in it.

I don't know who "Willie Burke Sherwood" is, but I'm assuming they must be some father figure type. This is Mike's life story: being a bookish kid, deciding to be like Jack in Lord of the Flies, going to work for UPS, picking his way through the difficult decisions. The music is a synthy whirlpool of feelings, or something like that. Then to close "R.A.P. Music" sums up his creative intents as his church, "the opposite of bullshit". All the same kind of instruments you hear on a David Guetta record, but in a far more satisfying order.

Rating: Angry Prophet out of Three Stripe Classicism

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