With less and less frequency since the days of Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Poor Righteous Teachers has conscious, enlightened hip-hop crossed the line from encouraging self-awareness to developing a call to action. Today, R.A.P. Music (standing for ‘Rebellious African People’), the trill new release from Killer Mike, represents the sense of urgency to reach people with its message, addressing listeners of hip hop with a necessary force that feels directly descended from Ice Cube’s now-classic AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions to Hold Us Back.
With production from El-P, Killer Mike’s discontent steers the conversation towards real issues of growing up black in the American south. Effortlessly stringent and direct, Mike maintains his verbal assault on the track at 100 level across every note. Never soft spoken or half-committed, Killer Mike showcases his firm grasp on a range of lyrical styles that bridges the influence of classic street knowledge with deft Bomb Squad-like production values, lyrically calculating the toils and dire recognition of the struggle to survive in America’s inner cities.
Make no mistake, this record comes out h-a-r-d as it navigates Mike’s message: distrust of church and government (“Untitled (feat. Scar)”, the unending war of police vs. black youth (“Don’t Die”) and bubbling frustrations of black youth against elders in the church (“Ghetto Gospel”) — all issues that continue to plague the black community in our so-called “post-racial America”.
This song, “Reagan”, is a powerful indictment of the Reagan years that speaks for itself much more than anything I could tell you. Go get this, it’s out today. Killer Mike is out repping real hip-hop; R.A.P. Music has a message that needs delivering to a generation still lost and looking. Recognize.