I was hyped up from this thing as soon as I heard the concept and now it is here and we’re gonna listen to it and I’ll type up what I think of it as I think of it okay here we go.
1 Big Beast (feat. Bun B, T.I., Trouble)
Dang wow this is like kicking the door down on the album. Going wild right from the get-go. “Everybody got a sack of dope and a gun”, this is the setting for this album, Bun B is a really solid rapper, I always forget that. Him and T.I. Are like the modern dirty south legends I guess. “Being trill is in onomatopoeia”, dang whaaat? Is that true? T.I. Going in pretty hard here, oh do I also have to say this beat is utterly mindblowing? “What’s a coward to a kamikaze?” What’s any other producer to El-P? “No homo promo homie you might get your ass touched”, lol. “I don’t make dance music this is R.A.P. Opposite of that sucker shit they play on MTV”. INSANE START HERE WE GO
2 Untitled (feat. Scar)
Real space age beats here. Classic El-P suddenly makes SO MUCH SENSE in the dirty south. Wow when that synth jumps up, wow, those drums, wow that minor variation? Wow wow this is an excellently put together beat. “You are witnessing elegance in the form of a black elephant” alright yes, I am. This beat going even crazier like it thinks it needs to. They say this isn’t dance music but dang this stirs the soul, y’know? Real hype sort of music. Wow this vocal on the hook, this is real classic dungeon family style. Lord have mercy indeed. “And I keep a blunt, and a bible and a gun on me”, dang, then a homage/shoutout to 3 Stacks, yeah yeah. It’d be cool if Andre had a verse on this album. I don’t know what is really being talked about here. This is about the trillest I’ve ever felt. Some pretty cultural references too, Dali etc, neat. Wow those drums are heavy, that is like three tons of static loaded in them I bet. Burning bush in the swisher wrap lol what “I’ma spit this ghetto gospel over all these gutter songs”, GO.
WHAAAAAAAT INSANE FLOW, this beat just rides it instead of the inverse, crazy. “I go ham, I go off” etc and then FAST MODE, “Pause in your life just like a comma, bitch!” and then MAD SCRATCHING. El-P is channelling Kool Keith while Killer Mike channels Andre. “Spit hot fire retro Godzilla” and then like five other great lines I can’t copy down in time. These vocal modulations are nuts. Wow that was intense.
4 Southern Fried
This beat is like lovecraftianly mindboggling, like a Konami-hard stepchart with speedchanges, like looking in Udongei’s eyes. Rapping is nuts of course. This is some real cultural rhyming, I love it. Little anecdotes and stuff, bit of history, really building a setting. Hook is banananananas, smooth vocals, organ chords jesus wow this cannot be real. “So fresh, so clean”, I gotta count the Outkast references there are dozens. Killer Mike is like a five-star rap general now, he can get away with anything and hits with a force of an army. The combination of cleverness and swagger, heartfeltness and abrasiveness, wow. “Ain’t I fresh, ain’t I clean, ain’t I ride through the city in the meanest machine?” Indeed man wow this is the biggest reemergence of the south since who knows when, basically the biggest thing ever. The crazy scattered beat over the fast pounding beat works so well, how did he know this would work so well? Breakdown on the hook at the end is still the BEST ENDING TECHNIQUE.
5 Jos Jos Chillin
Shoutouts. Wow whole new style. Lol this is pretty wacky stuff. Hitting with stuff, hitting with shhhh, this is a sort of confusing story but I don’t really expect to be able to follow this sort of story the first time. Little jazz noodling on the beats. Guy trying to get through security at the airport, pretty funny stuff but still themes of like, race relations and oppression and all them things. This almost feels like a Beastie Boys song if it was all southern fried. Now drunk on the airplane, I wonder how much of this is autobiographical? Remembering advice from Ghostface? Make a wheelchair call, that’s funny as hell. Oh man this story has a pretty sad end but I guess our hero survives.
Yo I did a big report on Ronald Reagan. More on that never. This beat is like... sheesh. Reagan doing Iran-Contra stuff. Then Mike delivers some judgment. Beat some synthesis of the Godfather and the Gutterfather. And deep space. These messages are really dang heavy, that’s alright, this is stuff he’s passionate about for good reason. And now the Reagan apology. BEAT EVOLVES LIKE CRAZY. Killer Mike now like wow this is a manifesto. Really explaining this thing Wire-style, top to bottom and back, amazing. Wow those drums and pianos coming in wow I can’t handle all of this. Politics covered up to the present, toeing the conspiracy theory line but in a VERY COOL WAY, “If I say any more they might be at my door”, badass. “I leave you with four words: I’m glad Reagan dead.”, wow. This is way intense. Immortal Technique but without the tryhard? Oh man Ronald: 6, Wilson: 6, Reagan: 6. LOL. I heard that on the Boondocks.
7 Dont Die
I listened to this like five hundred times already. The beat is about the craziest thing man has done since like fire. Ghettochiptune, awesome vocal intro, you just KNOW that Mike is gonna rip this whole track to shreads. Moving from theory on the last track to direct militarism, “REAL BAD GUY SHIT! LIVING LIKE A VILLAIN, NEVER CHILLIN’, HEAVY INFLUENCE ON YOUR CHILDREN!” WOW HERE WE GO. Starts off like bumping like nuts like this is music you don’t have to bump because it bumps itself. Then the beat changes up after the beat, more spacey, hype building like crazy now. Then geez wow another evolution, story escalation at the same pace, beautiful. “It’s real deep shit, I shot a cop”, and then the final Charizard level beat, every component in the same pace, story climaxes, transitions into more general moral etc. “Fuck the police is still all I gotta say”, alright wow. And Ice Cube is doing kids movies!!
8 Ghetto Gospel
Sitting on bed thinking about bread raps, classic. This beat is sinister, no two ways about it. “I went and got a gun”, that’s pretty chilling, and then the hook is legit gospel stuff man, wow this is really beautiful actually. And the sourness of that downtune at the end, perfect, perfect. These beepboops are perfect too, this feels like the Goldeneye soundtrack with more stuff, I mean the N64 game, this is very high praise. “The law won’t break us if we all on one accord”, and then that beautiful hook again. Transition extended now, really a great sense of transition on this song. Seems to be transcending old ideas of race relations, forming new conclusions, very interesting but I can’t stop focusing on the beat long enough to think about it yet. Street samples etc are great too, everyone needs those. Hook again, handclaps great. They act like it’s ending and then EXTENDED REMIX for the end, I love it, no surprises really but exactly what I was hoping for. Like seriously this is legitimately beautiful by any stretch and yet is still heavy and hype and all that. Stuff you can listen to on late night walks or blast out of car speakers, how does that EVEN WORK.
9 Butane (Champions Anthem) (Feat. El-P)
AND THEN LOL THAT TRANSITION, this really stop-start flow is hype as hell man I am anticipating El-P here hard. Wow this hook and stuff is crazy, yeah yeah yeah yeah. Blue flame hellion harass flow. Political lines and such, beat heavy as anything, ghostwritten for my partner T.I.P.? Is that real? I dunno whatever, this is really anthemic, title perfect. These guys are seriously champs. AND HERE HE IS, wow who would have thought el-p works on el-p beat what a coincidence. There are some great lines on this verse, some words I can’t even try to spell, classic El-P. “Middle fingers up on the Titanic ‘cause it’s going down”, that’s legendary sort of swagger.
10 Anywhere But Here (feat. Emily Panic)
Another like perfect transition. This beat is insane too oh wow. These like “riff style” beats are like El-P’s best still I think. Like Batman in gotham, and then some chilling real life references. This flow is amazing amazing, forgotten emperor of style. I guess this is Emily Panic now, sounds like a hwhite gurl, works really well. “Too many ghosts in this town”. Now we go from NYC to ATL. “To me home feels like hell”. Cool new perspective on the whole street history shtick. More good integrated real life stories. Hook extension on the end of course, really great, I love the effect they did to her voice. Cool outro.
11 Willie Burke Sherwood
This thing is starting pretty strangely. I can’t imagine how this will transition into a beat but I am very hype about it. That fast flow is seriously unexpected, the beatification unexpected too. Beatification an actual word? “I knew the meek and the weak couldn’t survive in the streets”, Lord of the Flies references, “I’m addicted to literature”, Killer Mike was Mr. Muthafucking Esquire before Esquire was born. Hook sorta like the previous songs, sort of highlights this triumphant sort of escalation. “This is for” etc type stuff very satisfying, sounds great at the end of the album. Childhood anecdotes, endearing. Doesn’t “hide” that he went to college like some “street rappers” do, oh wow he worked at UPS? Dropped out and sold cess, “My momma got to see me on MTV”, this is pretty endearing, talking about dead relatives. Pretty sad really. Never thought I’d hear this stuff from the guy who did that verse on Snappin’ n Trappin’.
12 R.A.P. Music
Title track. Beat like wow, “I never really had a religious experience in a religious place. Closest I’ve ever come to feeling God is listening to rap music, rap music is my religion, amen.” Definitive. Hard. Beat perfect for this sort of thing, feels like a summation of everything before, and a distillation. This is all sorts of genres, and I believe. I love how these southern rappers say “church”. I love the little vocal “oohs”. Wow rapidfire history of his musical influences, great. I love how the beat pitches down a little for anticipation. So like we get Mike as family man, artist, man of the city, political activist, everything. Did El-P know this would be so sincere and like, legacy-defining? At the beginning I thought this’d be like, an experiment, you know? But this is the sort of album that you point to as the “classic” in someone’s discog in terms of subject matter. “What my people need and the opposite of bullshit”, so we have returned to his claim on the first track now with tons of evidence. Cool. This outro whaaaaaat, no no this can’t be it... sheesh, good job.
This thing was so much more than what I thought it’d be it’s almost crazy. At first I thought it would be like a peanutbutter/hamburger thing where you can’t get over how well a crazy mashup like that works, but it’s more like a peanutbutter/chocolate thing, where after one bite it just makes sense and seems like the most natural thing on the planet. I also thought Killer Mike’d be the way I remembered him on most of the verses I remember him really well from i.e. rude as hell, like ridiculously gratuitously so, heifers and black and deckers and all that sort of stuff. But here when he’s dirty he’s more gritty. Not that he doesn’t have that swagger still, but he seems really human, which is good but I almost miss the caricature I expected. But yeah it’s PERFECT with the production, though, when he goes really HAM the beat is unleashed in a way that only El-P could do, and when he gets really powerful and heavy, it gets really sinister and dark and such. Subject matter is really nice and varied, covering a lot of lifestyle aspects with both storytelling, boasting and manifesto modes. So yeah very good. I would have liked to see more stuff transcend the intro-verse-hook-verse-hook-verse-extended hook formula, but maybe really weird stuff would have been worse, I dunno. I’d also liked to have seen more guest appearances, not that Mike wasn’t doing a cleanup job himself but it’s just so exciting to hear like anyone over this sort of beat. But holy crap yeah this is great. S+