At this point, it seems sort of ridiculous to defend the merit of Southern Hip Hop. There’s a lot of shitty Southern Hip Hop. There’s a lot of shitty Northern Hip Hop. There’s a lot of great music coming from a variety of regions, and, East Coast snobbery be damned, the South has been pumping out dopeness for close to 20 years now (probably more, my knowledge of early Southern Hip Hop is admittedly lacking).
So I’m going to defend the merit of Killer Mike. In particular, his sorely overlooked debut, 2003’s Monster.
Monster hit in the wake of Mike’s strong performance on Outkast’s “The Whole World.” Monster lays out the blueprint for Mike’s recent work. His street preaching and uniquely Southern twist on the incisive and righteously angry work of forebears like Ice Cube (an easy comparison, but a fitting one) are on full display here. Though songs like “Creep Show” and the infectious single “A.D.I.D.A.S.” show the difficulty of fully committing to the persona that Mike bears today, they are undoubtedly well executed. The album’s two singles display the dichotomy that exists in Mike’s persona: “Akshon” is the anger and emotion he’d always like you to hear, but “A.D.I.D.A.S.” is the knowledge that every now and then you need to lighten up. But who am I kidding? Mike is at his best when his voice is blaring passionately from your speakers.
Though his style has certainly evolved and he’s figured out how to write anthemic crowd pleasers without losing his flare for righteous anger (See: “God in the Building”), Monster paints a fascinating genesis of style and an exorcism of demons. In every way it’s an album about the growth of Mike as a man and an artist. Few rappers have the ability to make the now rote topics of trapping and drug dealer’s remorse seem compelling. Mike fills them with life and boiling blood. I urge you to support this man whenever you can, he’s one of the best we’ve got. From the North, South, East or West.
“Blow (Get Down)”
“Sex, Drugs, Rap & Roll”
And now back to your regularly scheduled East Coast bias. New Royce the 5’9″ featuring Bun B and Joell Ortiz. Produced by Premo. Bun B gets love everywhere. Killer Mike should get love everywhere. Anyway, this bumps for sure.