Killer Mike
R.A.P. Music


5.0
classic

Review

by Sobhi Youssef EMERITUS
May 13th, 2012 | 1546 replies | 77,746 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A hip-hop masterpiece to be remembered for years to come

When it was revealed that R.A.P. Music would be produced entirely by New York's progressive hip-hop demigod El-P, it's easy to imagine a majority of his fans facepalming in unison. While a generalization, it may not be baseless to assume fans of southern rap do not typically overlap musical taste with their internet nerd-hop cousins. If that were even the case, Killer Mike and El-P's collaborative effort not only turns that notion on its head, but breaks new ground for the genre as a whole. The beats start with classically southern sampling techniques and drum tracks as a baseline. For the casual listener there may be no obvious difference from the typical use of an 808 - except they go fierce another level. El's trademark syncopation and distorted synth-bass gradually seep into the compositions, begging for the listener to pull back each layer individually. At first listen, "Southern Fried" suggests itself a simplistic country jam with a guitar sample; the evolution is almost extraordinary. The sample is cut and modified in such a way that it allows El-P to use it almost rhythmically, its use mostly a transition into a Hammond organ-driven minor blues chorus amidst a syncopated drums, synths, and Killer Mike-sung hook. Other tracks are more traditional (for El-P) electronic-based productions, like the chronicle of cop death in "Don't Die" or the self-featured "Butane". Most impressively, they refrain from transitioning to hard electronic boom-bap and maintain the focus on Killer Mike.

While El-P's compositions form the perfect sonic backdrop to rap over; they aren't the only reason why R.A.P. Music succeeds in spades. Not only is Mike's storytelling at its absolute peak here, but his lyricism is on point - far improved from anything he's done in the past. Pre-release leak "Big Beast" starts the record on this rejuvenated note of sorts; all emcees go off on the mic possessed. Delivery-wise Killer Mike is obviously influenced by Outkast's Big Boi, yet pulls a lot from the venerable Scarface as well as his own individual touch. The record is philosophical and politically charged without misdirected or unnecessary anger. The discussion on "Reagan" dissects the roots of our government's oppression of its people and calls our presidents out for the figureheads that they are. But most importantly, R.A.P. Music is a wildly personal journey ending on a very emotional note through Killer Mike's narration in "Willie Burke Sherwood" (a dedication to his passed-away grandfather that he would unequivocally be proud of). The self-titled closer continues in this vein with what is quite possibly the most inspirational boon for the genre of hip-hop since the 90s set over the most chaotic, thought-provoking beat this side of Funcrusher Plus:

I've never really had a religious experience in a religious place. The closest I've ever come to seeing or feeling god is -- listening to rap music. Rap music is my religion. Amen.

R.A.P. Music has redefined what exactly we should expect hip-hop to be and defies regional categorizations. Not only is it essential listening for hip-hop in 2012, but also one of the few records that pushes musical and cultural boundaries in general.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2012


31153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sobhi on a roll

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Inveigh
May 13th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

omg fuck yes Sobhi


aoty so far for me, Southern Fried might be my #1 song of 2012 too

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

gabethepiratesquid
May 13th 2012


4521 Comments


You 5d this but 3d Control System? smh.

but I still have to figure out how I feel about this. I realllllly liked El-P's album and I was like, "Alright, basically that but Southern, I'll probably like that way more." but this has yet to appeal to me as much. Maybe I need to let it sink in more but I don't think it'll be a 5, haha.

I love Big Beast and R.A.P. Music, tho.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

sup guys. yeah southern fried is sick. basically every track here is dope on multiple levels that you can zone in on with each listen.

i was excited to hear control system from the hype i heard (love black hippy). but was really disappointed by the poor quality of production, plus ab gets pretty monotonous with his delivery in parts. i might be putting up a review for that.

RAP Music is a f*cking incredible track. i am obsessed with it. i think i like the record more than C4C overall, but they are very close.

Inveigh
May 13th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I definitely like this more than the new El-P, even though C4C is probably my 2nd fav hip hop release this year so far... there really isn't a moment on this album that I'm not totally engrossed.


haven't given Control System a full listen but I dug the bits and pieces I've heard

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

my first rating is based on my overall accessibility to each track... if the production sucks on more than half of them, then i'm more likely to not like the record that much. This is the problem i had with control system.

here, i was pretty much floored the whole time.

gabethepiratesquid
May 13th 2012


4521 Comments


Poor quality of production? Saywhaaaaaaaaat? I mean it's not as crazily futuristic or in your face as
TDE usually is but the beats are ridiculous. And his rapping usually keeps my interest throughout with
his creative switching up of things and just...retardedly good/layered lyrics.

I think ur just weird.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

yeah the beats aren't wizard enough for me

plus it's really effing hard to listen to any other production after listening to this and C4C for the past few weeks. it's hard not to think everyone sucks except el-p as opposed to the fact that el-p is just an exceptional producer.

Inveigh
May 13th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Don't Die is pure dopeness

gabethepiratesquid
May 13th 2012


4521 Comments


true dat.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

my favorite tracks:

1. Big Beast (Featuring Bun B, T.I. & Trouble)
2. Untitled (Featuring Scar)
3. Go!
4. Southern Fried
5. Jo Jo’s Chillin'
6. Reagan
7. Don’t Die
8. Ghetto Gospel
9. Butane (Champion’s Anthem) [Featuring El-P]
10. Anywhere But Here (Featuring Emily Panic)
11. Willie Burke Sherwood
12. R.A.P. Music

Inveigh
May 13th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

is that ranked

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

lol no. realistically, i do like all the tracks, but my top tracks are: rap music, dont die, butane, reagan, southern fried, and big beast.

Inveigh
May 13th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha i know, was just fucking around


I'm basically with you on top tracks, I really like Anywhere and JoJo's Chillin though I don't know which of those I'd sub out. record's too good

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

i use my google voice activation on my phone to text one of my buddies "yeah yeah yeah yeah" constantly

Inveigh
May 13th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's like every time a new song starts I go "on yeah, this this the best one"

just did that with Willie Burke Sherwood

Inveigh
May 13th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wow Lust Demons off that Ab-Soul record is incredible

Idnuf
May 13th 2012


1491 Comments


Wasn't sure at first, but fuck this record is fantastic

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I dont know, I feel like his minimal approach with all of the above packaging/presentation emphasizes the vibe of the record more. It's more manufactured with that classic hip-hop spirit, adidas stripes, sunglasses, and just plain RAP music.

Tyrael
May 13th 2012


20874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah this rules

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I



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