Reviews

Killer Mike “MICHAEL” Album Review

MICHAEL

Killer Mike

  • Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap
  • Date: 16 Jun, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 14
  • ℗ 2023 VLNS, LLC., Under exclusive license to Loma Vista Recordings. Distributed by Concord.

Killer Mike’s “Michael” is the MC’s first solo album after forming Run the Jewels with rapper/producer El-P over a decade ago. “Michael” accentuates Killer Mike’s Atlanta origins by returning back to a style of Southern rap influenced by gospel, soul, and blues, with a distinct sound and mood than the duo’s four joint albums.

Although Killer Mike almost carries every song with his commanding presence and stirring words, the album felt new thanks to the addition of the perspectives of younger musicians like 6LACK, Young Thug, Ty Dolla $ign, and Blxst. Also, André 3000 and the toxic king, Future, make pleasant guest cameos.

Album Cover Art

Killer Mike &Quot;Michael&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, November 29, 2023

Mike uses an old-but-gold image from when he was a kid for his comeback album. But the photo was altered a bit to look the part of an album cover, with the addition of the Halo ring floating above the horns sprouting from both sides of the kid’s head, which would illustrate the sweet and innocent yet surprisingly mischievous nature of children.

Tracks and Features

You hear a fiery Killer Mike when the album’s opening track, “Down By Law,” starts playing. Mike employs frantic flows to criticize the American legal system, “snakes,” individuals who have given up on God, and snitches throughout the song, which is driven by this powerful, dramatic beat. In addition, he pays tribute to Atlanta, Barack Obama, Eric B., Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. With a heartfelt chorus that you can feel in your soul, CeeLo Green brings the song to a close. In fact, his performance makes it clear why he was formerly a coach on The Voice—straight OG delivery.

“EXIT 9” isn’t the strongest track on the LP, maybe because Killer Mike and featured guest Blxst sound chill and easygoing in it, but you’ll be blown away by how pure it sounds. Not only does Blxst deliver a smooth-ass hook about achieving success and applauding hard work, but Killer Mike also delivers slick-ass lines about the fallen, the living, and how far he has come. Many will get the song’s message on the first because it is quite relatable.

Saying that Killer Mike and Young Thug don’t agree on “Run” would be an understatement. Killer raps about fighting against the odds of being a black guy in America, while the Thugger raps about fighting against dust that got on his Roley. Whatever the situation, the two Atlanta giants’ combined skills make for a very enjoyable listen.

Killer Mike is completely transparent in “Motherless.” Mike aggressively raps about the effect that not having his mother or grandmother around had on him while being accompanied by the uplifting sounds of southern gospel and Eryn Allen Kane’s stunning voice. He imagines what it would be like to see them again if that were to happen.

On “Shed Tears” and “Slummer,” which are designed as call-and-responses between the rapper and female backup vocalists who provide the hooks, Killer Mike pays tribute to his ancestry while also honoring the women in his life. The album’s closing lines on the Ty Dolla Sign-featured “High and Holy,” are spoken by a woman in the Yoruba language of Nigeria, paying homage to her ancestors and the musical and cultural traditions in which Michael is steeped.

Tracklist

NO

TITLE

ARTIST

TIME

1DOWN BY LAWKiller Mike & CeeLo Green3:31
2SHED TEARSKiller Mike & Mozzy4:49
3RUN (feat. Young Thug)Killer Mike4:45
4NRICH (feat. 6LACK & Eryn Allen Kane)Killer Mike4:40
5TALK’N THAT SHIT!Killer Mike2:54
6SLUMMERKiller Mike & Jagged Edge4:35
7SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS (feat. Future & Eryn Allen Kane)Killer Mike & André 30004:13
8TWO DAYSKiller Mike & Ty Dolla $ign2:14
9SPACESHIP VIEWSKiller Mike, Curren$y, 2 Chainz & Kaash Paige3:12
10EXIT 9Killer Mike & Blxst2:42
11SOMETHING FOR JUNKIESKiller Mike & Fabo4:38
12MOTHERLESSKiller Mike & Eryn Allen Kane3:53
13DON’T LET THE DEVIL (feat. thankugoodsir)Killer Mike & EL-P2:45
14HIGH & HOLYKiller Mike & Ty Dolla $ign4:53

Album Theme

Killer Mike’s voice remains one of the most powerful in hip-hop today. His ability to advocate for the black community should be commended, especially given the manner in which he does so. In this album, Mike stays invested in his people that it almost feels as though he is forcing his outspoken ideas on everything from challenging the system to being resilient on them.

Production Credits

Agape Jerry, André 3000, Beat Butcha, Cool N Dre, Dammo Farmer, DJ Paul, Don Cannon, El-P, Honorable C.N.O.T.E., James Blake, Little Shalimar, No I.D., Tec Beatz, TWhy, Twhy Exclusive, Warryn Campbell & Will Yanez produced the album.

Stream

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