October 30, 2014
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(TheAntiMedia) I guess I shouldn’t find it astonishing that other people don’t know who Killer Mike is. He managed to carve a niche within hip hop without much penetration of the mainstream outside of the OutKast features he turned in for Stankonia and Speakerboxx (as well as non-album hit single “The Whole World,” maybe you’ve heard it). Up until his recent and long-awaited ascent as a member of Run The Jewels (who had a new album come out Oct 28.), his biggest moment was “The Whole World,” which you’ve heard, unless you’re Amish.
But between then and now? Steady grindin’ for Killer Mike. He put out Monster in ‘03 and worked on a trilogy of albums named I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind. Seriously, Mike’s serious about grindin’. He sort of skulked from behind, steady putting out albums, steady working. There was a false start there for a second when he released an adult swim single under the name Mike Bigga, produced by FlyLo.
During this time, admittedly, I wasn’t an avid listener of Mike’s music, nor of hip hop in general (my attention jumps genres every few years, or some shits). What I was an avid consumer of was cartoons, namely [as] programming, but even there I wasn’t safe from the distinctive voice of one Mr. Michael Render.
If you’ve never seen Frisky Dingo, you just need to straight get the fuck outta my face. Don’t come back ‘til you seent it. Taquil, Mike’s character, is just one bonus among a show stuffed with jokes and personalities. Made by the guys who went on to make Archer, it’s a legit comedy classic cut down in its prime. Killer Mike’s abilities as a voice actor and goodwill generated thereby led to his next avenue, and after the “Swimming” single he secured WIlliams Street Records’ funds for a full-length. And that’s when Mike did the smartest thing thus far in terms of rap trajectory: he called upon a hitherto fallen secret doomsday device.
Enter El-P, the BK shyster supreme. Seemingly slumped, his label (Def Jux) went under and he hadn’t released an album in five years, though he was steady recording what was to become but a piece of the barrage that these two would quickly assemble.
Mike wanted El (Jaime Meline) for his upcoming album, El was hesitant, Mike had that Billionaire Ted money, so El produced R.A.P. Music, a solid blast of classic rap from two men at absolute peak powers. The next week, El’s Cancer 4 Cure came out, a sleek slate of Blade Runner boom-bap. Each album featured one collab track with the two of them, and both were pretty standout tracks (although C4C’s “Tougher Colder” takes the fucking cake, production-wise and lyrically.)
R.A.P Music also featured some pretty scathing political commentary from Mike, including the eerily prescient pre-Trayvon Martin scandal track “Don’t Die.” But the clear standout amongst all of the gems on the album – and really it is a solid effin album – is “Reagan.”
Langston Hughes is sitting just on the the cusp of the beyond saying “I tolt ya so” so hard right now. Mike manages to indict a couple hundred years of white male political agenda in the length of a pop song. No hook, who has the time? All of this rendered serviceable by informative, non-preachy lyrics and a simmering hot beat from Mr. Producto.
After the one-two of these albums, a victory lap was in order. Mike and El went back into the studio, forged a hip hop friendship bound in 36” chains, and became Run The Jewels. After giving away their first album, they hit the road, and the reaction was so sublime that RTJ2 their second self-titled album drops in a couple of weeks. With guests from Zach De La Rocha to Michael Winslow (shit you not), it’s a much anticipated sophomore record from a group that formed surprisingly and organically.
Have some more, courtesy of Run The Jewels and fellow dissident Zach De La Rocha. (From the upcoming RTJ2)
All of this adds up to a pretty compelling picture of one of the most charismatic, caring, talented, multidimensional rappers working right now, and thats why in the year 2014 it’s unacceptable to not know who Killer Mike is. He’s not on the radio, but that’s no good excuse. If you claim to love rap music, then you should listen to R.A.P. Music.
Jay Lastname is a pseudonym for a person. That person is a music contributor for The Anti-Media and the editor of AHmagazine, a magazine documenting music, professional wrestling, movies, technology, the internet, magick, ghosts, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, Ebola, internal office dynamics, soup, sales, and Soupy Sales.