Tag Archives: Killer Mike

Song of The Year-Palmolive Featuring Pusha T and Killer Mike produced by Madlib by Freddie Gibbs

Song of The Year-Palmolive Featuring Pusha T and Killer Mike produced by Madlib by Freddie Gibbs

by Dan-O

In 2014 when Madlib and Freddie Gibbs produced Pinata I thought the two were magnificently matched. A song like Deeper is just not possible without the mutilated soul Madlib feeds Freddie. For some rappers soul sample based beats (Madlib, 9th Wonder) push them into a gentler, reflective place. A chance to put the teeth away and show another side; for Gibbs it is very much not like that.

You can tell because on Palmolive, one of two epic posse cuts on the new Madlib x Gibbs album Bandana, Gibbs starts his verse with “Kane season/F_ing my pastor daughter in two Jesus pieces/Dropping this blow on the basement floor/My Yeezy’s squeaking” all while the bridge to the Sylvers song Cry Of A Dreamer gets the falsetto pulled out and stabbed then kicked behind Freddie to sound like the spooky painful cry that inspires his seething darkness. How bleak is Gibbs? Am I exaggerating? He doubles his own vocals so he can comment on what he is saying and the conversation he’s having with himself is brutal PTSD recollection. “Fernando said they used to move chickens in the Noriega days(Yeah)/ I disrespect his name and he signed my face with a razor blade (True story, N_).”

This song is the perfect meeting of seething darkness. Killer Mike’s chorus carries that bullish swagger, that evil sneer daring you to challenge or doubt the truth of this song. Pusha T doesn’t just understand what Palmolive wants to do, he helped build the model for it. He begins speaking so specifically that it is chilling and he does it all in code you might not understand if your not combing through. When he says “PTSD from what I weighed on the digital,” a casual fan could get lost. My favorite is “The love of your life rap n_ wear fake watches/ the serial number don’t match the gift boxes.” This dude is rapping about knock off watch serial numbers! Push doesn’t care who understands or don’t he needs to speak to his audience on this song. When Push asks the audience if they are Alpo or Mitch it’s a more important question than you might understand. Mitch is dead and Alpo is in witness protection. The question brings the darkness center stage. Are you a traitor? Will you be the end of me? Where in this world can I be safe, if not for the rest of my life for a little while to just get my head together?

The other collaboration is the second to last song called Education. It has Yasiin Bey and Black Thought throwing 100 mph while Freddie does the same but it’s not Palmolive. This one is for fans like me who have Raekwon lyrics tattooed on their soul. If I am ever listening to Palmolive and someone robs me I’ll shrug and think “makes sense.” It’s the most desperate jagged lyrical diamond of 2019 and that spares no one from the conversation. Give me Bandana and keep the rest.


Mixtape Review-Drunk Uncle by N.O.R.E.

Mixtape Review-Drunk Uncle by N.O.R.E.

by Dan-O

I am a pretty passionate hip hop head. I hate pet peeve artists I’ve never met worse than family or friends that have slighted me, but I’ve never really had an opinion on N.O.R.E. Never been able to call him wack because he swings in on tracks and destroys his guest verse (example: What U Rep on Prodigy’s H.N.I.C. album) but N.O.R.E. is too funny to be hardcore and too hardcore to be backpacker. Not living in New York, I never found a way to care much about him either way; one thing was for certain: all the best rappers love this dude.  If you need clarity on why just listen to the first episode of his new podcast Drink Champs where he is hilarious and intuitive while pushing his guests for the juiciest stories. This is a dude you’d want to hang out with whether you are Nas or me.

That is not enough to survive in hip hop as long as N.O.R.E. has. He’s stayed profitable since 1997. Imagine how many great lyricists have fallen completely off in that time. His new mixtape, Drunk Uncle, showcases all of the reasons why he’s still here and valuable. N.O.R.E. has a hall of famers ear for beats. He knew that beat Butchrock gave for the song Queens needed Kool G Rap on it the same way he knew the DJ Mustard beat We Don’t needed Rick Ross & Ty Dolla Sign. The purpose of the mixtape is to draw a line in the sand between the old heads spending all their time complaining about what rap is and the thirsty new kids who don’t care about the history. N.O.R.E. stands right between the two sides calling on old friends like Swizz Beatz, Dame Grease and SPK for production (Jadakiss, Fat Joe and Nature on verses) but also reaching out to new schoolers like A$AP Ferg, Dave East, Rick Ross, and Ty Dolla Sign. He still has that club hit skill set, a song like Buckets (with French Montana & Manolo Rose) screams night club with glasses in the air.

N.O.R.E. fits everywhere. He grinds out a face scrunching hardcore gem, handling all verses, on Get Money even over that simple hard-nosed beat he throws in some left field humor that grabs your attention “Don’t play with me I’ll get you popped on your hover board, throw you in the river with the manatee’s…”  somehow he sounds like he fits over Mustard standing next to Ross.  I was shocked  that after hearing his collaboration with Killer Mike & Sleepy Brown I wanted a group to form. Mike and N.O.R.E. share a rollicking don’t give a F__ attitude.  Sleepy Brown is absolutely dope, still the southern Nate Dogg without a doubt.

My hope is that this is a sampler plate and he has more surprises to come. The mixtapes best moment, the song Moments,  illustrates how maturity and old age might give us a more interesting spread of content from N.O.R.E. while we all loved his jovial songs about oral sex in 1998, at this point it’s great to hear him build introspection without falling into high handed backpacker talk.  He lists moments in his life that are important; bid in jail, wedding, convo w/ Jay and one of them is “the birth of every one of my kids”, he says the line originally was “the birth of my first kid” but he changed it (he said this on his legendary Rap Radar podcast interview). I love that he changed it; that his team pushed him to change it. That means he doesn’t have a team of yes men, he has people keeping him fresh and it means he’s really considering what everything means and how it can be taken.  I hope Drunk Uncle really does get a buzz going because I’d love to hear what N.O.R.E. could do to rap now.

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Song of The Year-Born To Shine by Big Boi & Phantogram featuring Run The Jewels produced by Phantogram


Song of The Year-Born To Shine by Big Boi & Phantogram featuring Run The Jewels produced by Phantogram

by Dan-O

Run The Jewels might be the most exciting thing happening in rap music right now and it’s probably, at some level, Big Boi’s fault. El-P’s flow going back to the Rawkus Records days was always fast and hard to hear. I remember looking up lyrics and being blown away at the stuff he was saying (that I just couldn’t understand). Working with Killer Mike has taught him when to stamp down on the right word or accentuate a phrase. El now has gears and can shift down or up. Who is the most likely person to who have taught Killer Mike that?

em>Big Grams (the seven song collaboration between Phantogram and Big Boi) needs to be heard by anyone with any positive Outkast history. Big Boi is in a really interesting lyrical place. The first words he speaks on Big Grams are “I need another lover…like I need another hole in the side of my temple.” As he’s gotten older the player lifestyle weighs heavier with more worry than pay off. So while his flow still coils up and explodes, the words are pregnant with a lot of evolving personal gender philosophy.

Killer Mike’s first line of his first verse on Born To Shine will go down in the books as one of 2015’s very best greetings “I walk in Ric Flairin’ long fur coat wearin’ rolex rockin’ silk shirt wearin’ silk socks an’ balls need to breathe so bitch the drawers cotton…” talk about painting a picture. By the end of a Killer Mike verse your adrenaline levels have changed. El-P is having so much fun he actually says “without coins I’m a magical bloke…” which makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Any precious hipster making the argument that Big Boi sounds “weird” with Run The Jewels and they shouldn’t have features with him sucks and shouldn’t own headphones. Run The Jewels wouldn’t exist without the love Big Boi has for Mike as well as the love he’s always fostered in everyone he knows for any kind of music that’s dope. Big Boi has the highest Rock IQ of any rapper alive. Everyone is better around him. 

Three Reasons to Bang Ric Flair by Killer Mike

Three Reasons to Bang Ric Flair by Killer Mike

by Dan-O

Killer Mike is front and center as a loud and proud community voice. The first hip hop name anyone calls to interview about a political issue. All the people rabidly supporting the current Mike should walk backwards into his discography and here is three reasons why you should start with Ric Flair.

1.This is the second best pro wrestler named rap song of all time. The first is New Jack by Smoke Dza. It’s not enough to just name your song after a wrestler you liked growing up and spit whatever; Mike turns the boastful success image of Flair into a lean soulful journey into a better life while envisioning its end and meaning. Mike doesn’t want to be the underground legend you use to besmirch pop rappers, he’s letting you know that no matter where the sales fall he’s in a position of power.

2.If you have just fallen in love with Killer Mike post-Run The Jewels and you want to do your history its important to note that the project this song comes off of ,Pl3dge, is the turning point for him. The Killer Mike you know and love was fully formed from Pl3dge and never looked back. He was always lyrical in the sense of having content and being flat out born to rap (borrowing this description of Mike from Bomani Jones) but this project marks our first glimpse at Mike the mastermind; The master song sequencer, production picker, and content organizer.

3. You can certainly analyze Mike’s relationship to women through his lyrics and you should. I don’t think it’s as simple as yelling sexist or misogynist and walking away. When he says “pretty parasites might suck ya like leeches…” it’s less venomous than terrified. This larger than life fire breather who calls out police, celebrities, or the government talked about the women he encountered after fame like they were a zombie army (in 2011). Jay-z had very similar themes about women before family life altered his perspective and watching a rapper change his thought process over time is very rewarding. It’s important to know that the baddest dudes are still trying to figure it out.

FREE ALBUM REVIEW- Run The Jewels 2 by El-P x Killer Mike

FREE ALBUM REVIEW- Run The Jewels 2 by El-P x Killer Mike

by Dan-O

Everyone has come up to me the last few weeks asking what I think of the event album Run The Jewels 2. Honestly, I had no idea what to say but at this point I’m willing to take a go at it. This is how a major rap album event used to feel. When the old dogs snicker because Lil B compared himself to 2pac or Joell Ortiz put on his Big Pun comparison again it’s because we know the difference. A new Scarface album, a new Public Enemy or Ice Cube album felt this way. They were always straightforward and in your face; none of this crying in your coffee introspection. Not only were they chest thumping power assertions but necessarily filled with depth. Balance of content was not a gift but an expectation. Run The Jewels 2 has all the electricity, power, meaning and sneering joy of the first track of those old Ice Cube albums. It maintains that all the way through the eleven tracks available for free.

I made the mistake of calling the first Run The Jewels a mixtape and El-P corrected me on twitter. I’m seeing things his way now. Nothing on this feels as off-the-cuff-lets-try-it as a mixtape does; this is an album. The growth from that first collection of music to this one is substantial. While my favorite track is the adrenaline jolt first song Jeopardy which kicks off what I’m calling the most beautiful fight music in recorded history; you could easily make a case for any of the others. Lie, Cheat, Steal a is frank and intelligent discussion of what power means. Blockbuster Night p. 1 is two brilliant minds word game rapping back and forth with unparalleled acuity.

The lesson I learned from the first release was that Killer Mike really is better than your (mine as well) favorite rapper. This time out it’s the depth and beauty of El-P’s production. The sonic universe of to-the-hilt bass and twisted industrial influence is so large and rich it encompasses space enough for Gangsta Boo and Zack De La Rocha to lay the most successful guest verses of the year. Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) is a rampage made perfect anarchy by Zack’s looped voice in perpetual motion on the chorus. His guest verse makes all Rage Against The Machine fans smile ear to ear. Like seeing an ex looking as good as they ever did and thinking…that was one bad MF. Love Again (Akinyele Back) is brash and sexual with a throttling back beat that Boo lays into. While Love Again is sexual braggadocio and has a chorus about putting genitals in your mates mouth all day it adeptly sidesteps any insulting imagery. I’ve never heard El-P do a verse about sexuality as lovingly as the one on Love Again and it goes to show the influence these two artists have had on one another.

I’m a little tired of reading Run The Jewels reviews about how weird it is that Mike and El have this chemistry. How different their worlds are. It feels a little insulting. A lot of the worst collaborations in hip hop are done by best friends from similar environments with lots of commonalities. These two make each other better. Who cares how that fits into their “cultural” backgrounds? Mike is a sparkplug, lightning rod rapper who pushes El to open up things in ways he wouldn’t otherwise. What they’ve made sounds larger than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and has the strength to last longer. It shouldn’t shock you to hear El-P scream out tribute to Pimp C it should shock you that these two artists are so much better than you thought they were. Don’t be shocked if their next project is better. Trust these dudes.

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EP review-OTR2SJ by Scotty ATL

EP review-OTR2SJ by Scotty ATL

by Dan-O

My blood boils when I hear censored music. By the time the 90’s came around I was arguing with my parents for the permission to listen to rap music. If you turned on the television people were driving steamrollers over my favorite rap album. C. Delores Tucker had a list of the most offensive rap albums and they were all my favorites. Kids like me fought for the swearing, for our inappropriate content, because the music was saying something other forms of music wouldn’t dare.

Normally I would not review the new Scotty ATL EP OTR2SJ due to my extreme stance on this (the whole thing is censored with sound smudging! It makes me so mad!)…but…this thing is a monster. It buzzes with the kind of electric presence that Scotty has carried as of late. This is an un-ignorable artist. On Pray Alone he raps on a track before Killer Mike and stands shoulder to shoulder. That’s a tall order for anyone in rap.

It helps to have DJ Burn One standing in the shadows with the appropriate blast or horns or background guitar. Listening to the beat for Making Progress mutate as new elements come in is spellbinding. None of the beats over-extend or reach for club banger status, it’s that trademark Burn One minimalism filled with rich additives.

Every second on OTR2SJ feels important. No BS interludes or wack guest verses allowed. Rich The Kid stomps onto Bad Boy 97 like a giant and Scotty sounds like he expected that to happen. For me it doesn’t get better than the rich piano and tasteful guitar on The Journey and Scotty pronouncing “F your list, this is hot piss pouring on parades.” Most of the songs are about his progress through the industry, not in a braggy way but a determined/reflective endearing way. The soundscape reflects that tone perfectly. Even though I would love it a thousand times more with the cursing left in it’s a piece of music so good that it feels like what I was fighting to listen too the back then anyway.

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Song Review-Ame​rica’s Nightmare by SL Jones featuring Killer Mike and Kevin Gates produced by Metro Boomin

Song Review-Ame​rica’s Nightmare by SL Jones featuring Killer Mike and Kevin Gates produced by Metro Boomin

by Dan-O

Epic is the one word for this track. It’s produced by Metro Boomin who along with Zaytoven and a few others have defined the 2013 trap sound. The phrasing description on Metro Boomin is that he took the Mike-Will-Made-It sound and pumped it with performance enhancing boom. It features Kevin Gates who has stormed hip hop with his redefined hypnotically melodic trap-ish sound making every warble or vocal iteration a hit. Gates has done tracks with top lyricists like Starlito and killed it. The other feature (and show stealer) is Killer Mike who has gone HULK SMASH on every verse for the last two years. This verse showcases blackout beautiful P alliteration, Kennedy name drops and a guitar smash of a finish. The question is not whether Killer Mike is the best MC in this or that region. I would ask is there any MC in the world Killer Mike is worried about? I don’t think so either.

Amidst all the excitement this song creates I’m the most happy for SL Jones. I’ve almost reviewed SL Jones at least 3 times. He always seemed like a really good rapper who wasn’t quite there yet and needed to align the right beats with the right content. This new mixtape (Way of Life No Hobby) is genuinely fun and completely post-worthy. Its one thing to get an opportunity with a justifiably hot producer like Metro Boomin it’s a whole other kind of task to step up amidst those expectations and hit it out of the park.

stream or download Way of Life No Hobby below: