Killa Kyleon-Lean on Me: The Adventures of Joe Clark
As active as my imagination is its still hard for me to envision a situation where Killa Kyleon would apologize for a lyric. His music exists within such strict street code that every recommended course of action feels lived within. That’s part of what makes the liberal use of the 1989 Morgan Freeman movie Lean on Me make so much sense.
Throughout that film Freeman brings a no-nonsense disciplined approach to learning and succeeding into a dank hopeless juvenile wasteland. This is how Killa see’s the rap landscape and his approach is noticeable different. While Lil Wayne might make fun of vagina’s and Emmit Till at the same time, Killa makes his civil rights references in the strictest most positive way for all compared “Mama birthed a King like Coretta did, daddy raised a King like Coretta’s kids. So I’m a King like Corretta is just minus the crown but I’m a G like that letter is (Lean on Me).”
I remember a Killer Mike interview where he said Bun B is the Rakim of the South and Pimp C was Kool G Rap. If you follow this comparison down the line you could make Kyleon into the Texas Styles P, relentlessly hardcore but never overstepping into shocking the listener with things he doesn’t believe.
While the movie comparison point works well for him the sprawling purple drug abuse that gets shouted out over the soulful redistricting of Bill Withers Lean on Me is off putting. Shouting out pioneers and heroes like Pimp and DJ Screw who were killed by lean and then shouting out lean itself feels powerfully unpleasant to people like me who lived through those deaths and the huge holes left by them.
Luckily the music is awesome. Its only nine tracks with absolutely nothing you can live without. Trakksounds and June James do an excellent job pushing a burly sound through your speakers that rightly suits Kyleon’s announcement flow. Lean on Me does a great job of operating between soulful smashing songs like the title track (or Batman!) and cool riding music like Cadillac. Mouse on Tha Track(who is often a rap collaborator w/ Killa) provides a smooth burbling soundscape for Killa to preach candy paint, chrome, and rims over. The Kyleon strict dedication can be seen in the track list with song titles like My N#$%@’s, My City, and No Vacation it’s easy to see Killa putting on for his city, his family and himself with a blacksmith’s dedication at pounding beats into finished product.
The problem with that last image is that this tape is so darn fun. Batman is such a fantastic song with Wonder Woman, Thor, Hulk and Human Torch references (“Wolverine, cutting up I think I’m Logan”). Batman rules in large part due to Mr. Lee who produced it with car stereo destruction in mind. The beat sounds like Godzilla running. What Lean on Me isn’t makes it so much better. It isn’t long enough to have clunker freestyles or throw away tracks, it’s a condensed testament to how commanding Killa Kyleon is over his music and how criminally overlooked he is. The only time in hip hop we complain about someone being underexposed is when we are consistently impressed by that artist. That description fits the afterglow of Lean on Me like a glove.
Stream or Download Lean on Me below: