Contenders: Killer Mike
February 13, 2007
We went from too black and too strong to Sisquo and the damn Thong song – “Best Day, Worst Day”
For a guy named Killer, Mike sure is exuberant. He’s also angry, righteous, boisterous, thoughtful, brash and probably a little rash. All reasons to love him I assure you. The most obvious touchstone for Killer Killer is Ice Cube circa say 1992. Killer has got a conscience see. He sees all this stuff happening to and in black America and it pisses him off. But he likes to party too and make songs about the ladies. Actually, he’s unable to prevent his songs from slipping between categories. He’ll randomly begin to criticize some fake pastor on what ought to be a party track, or direct his ire at the women on what seemed to be a social commentary track. Whatever he’s doing though, Mike is compelling.
Shit, just last week a young nigga got shot, playing Superman, racing bullets in the parking lot – “Aye Oh”
He isn’t compelling for extraordinary metaphorical or word juggling skills, although he does occasionally deploy those as well. The Ice Cube comparison holds here as well. Killer says whatever is on his mind the directest way possible. he puts some humor into it and delivers every line, whether dissing Soul Train or lamenting rappers who’ve quit rapping for acting, as if it’s his last one. He’s got one of those big voices (think Big or Chuck D) that leave you completely convinced of whatever it is they are saying.
The problem with Killer being on the Contenders series is that he’s already made an album totally worthy of adulation. Killer’s Ghetto Extraordinary was delayed from release for so long that all the material he recorded for it went into the mixtape, The Killer. He released that in 2005 and you really must listen to it to get an idea of what he’s capable of. The entire mixtape is full of sharp, banging, raucous beats. There is psychedelic stuff that shows the Outkast influence, like the bouncy “My Chrome,” hard edged street beats like the unhinged energy of “Aye Oh” or the 808 propulsion of “Get Em Shawty,” and as it is a mixtape, there are also a couple of jacked beats including the awesome feat of turning 112’s saccharine “Cupid” into “A Dope Story.” Still there is an inescapable joy of life to the whole proceedings that keeps it fun to listen to, no matter how hard he’s going on any topic.
Killer Mike has been a part of the Outkast crew for a long time and he fell victim when Aquemini, the record label they started to release their own projects, fell apart. He’s on Big’s Purple Ribbon label along with some other folks you might have heard of (Bubba Sparxxx, Sleepy Brown) and some others you’ll soon be getting familiar with (Janelle Monae, Scar). The Killer is still my favorite Killer album/mixtape, but he released I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind, a street album (as he calls it) last year and it isn’t any lighter on righteous fury or good times. Check it all out, and check out the Killer Mike Primer below to get you started. One.
Dude murdered for his shoes, it was childish, but look how we remembered you. Came to your funeral in the same tennis shoes, too young and ignorant to see that our act of defiance caused your mother so much stress and crying – “You Don’t Want This life”