RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Monday, April 24

[HH3os] The good R.A.P./m.A.A.d Cancer trio

(1st round match-up 16 of 27)

Hello internet rap fans, welcome back to the next daily installment of RAVEN WASTES SO MUCH GODDAMNED TIME LISTENING TO SHIT HE MAY OR MAY NOT LIKE ALL FOR SOME GODDAMN STUPID “content” ON HIS STUPID FUCKING WEBSITE. Today’s three-way dance could be a main event in any arena anywhere in the country, so you won’t want to miss it!

Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
(released May 15, 2012; #13 on 2012 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
Killer Mike is a big lovable fool of a man, with the purest Dirty Southern heart one could ever hope for. When my oldest kid was younger, I took her to a Big Boi/Killer Mike show where we gave zero fucks about Big Boi to be honest (sorry Big Boi), but were amped the fuck up for Killer Mike. He lived up to it. On top of that he met and greeted the fuck out of anybody who wanted to meet and greet afterwards, and she got to talk to the man, and he was fatherly and tender and real as fuck. So all my Killer Mike opines are tainted heavily by the positives the man exuded on wax and in real life.
But on top of all that, this album/tape/CD/file of 0s and 1s is a pretty great rar in itself. Ever since that opening line of N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton: “You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge,” motherfuckers been tripping over themselves trying to prove how much street knowledge they can express. The problem is, much of it lacks streets, and even more of it lacks actual knowledge. Killer Mike comes with that gruff but book-heavy type of street knowledge that you get from dudes who (likely) have been to prison, wearing a kufi, and are able to connect the Welsh independence movement to Black Lives Matter in about four paddles of their stream of thought. That type of person has always impressed me most, more than any Ted Talks ever, and perhaps that says more negatively about my background and upbringing than it does positively about that type of person and Killer Mike; but fuck it, I can’t be nothing but what I was born to be, so I’m gonna pretend it’s good (because if it is not, then why the fuck am I still alive?).
In my song playlist self-curated culture, a couple tracks (“Reagan” and “R.A.P. Music” most notably) got heavy as fuck play, but revisiting the album as a whole, in manufactured order, reminded me of the street side to Mike’s street knowledge. Now, this is not to do some internet whiteboy shit and be all like “Mike is real man, he’s the real shit,” because obviously everybody is fucking posturing to some extent or another as a rapper. That’s part of the gig, though you never step into a character you can’t carry, much like professional wrestling. You’ve got to be believable. It’s well known Mike was the son of a two-parent household with a cop dad, so I doubt he was shooting invading police officers in his bedroom one morning all of a sudden. But ya know, he can carry the stories with knowledge. Rap, again like professional wrestling, is a blend of fact and fiction, so that your character carries more weight, so that when they do go off on some shit like “Reagan”, it actually means something to the listener. Killer Mike does that, and in the southern style that is greasy enough you should probably lay it out on an opened up napkin to soak up some of the frying oils. (Lolol, that is a stupid forced metaphor, but I’m hungry for lake trout right now to be honest.)
Dungeon Family’s extended fingers made so many great contributions to the Southern Hip Hop catalog, giving us all the Pentecostal boom baptistry with slurred delivery and deep Impala rattling bass that we’ve come to love (at least here) as an alternative to strict NYC boom baptistry. Killer Mike has carried that tradition on wonderfully, and to be honest, I wish he’d drop another solo album, and stop fucking around with El-P the whole damn time. SEVEN STARS (*******)!

El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
(released May 22, 2012; #45 on 2012 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
Speak of the (white) devil, here comes El-P right on the tail of the Killer Mike album. This is interesting to note historically, because I wonder if they both were touring in support around the same time, with the one week release difference, and thus forged a friendship that would give us the internet’s favorite rap tag team in a long ass minute?
I will admit an immediate partial prejudice against El-P, not because I think he’s bad or anything, but because his style is too industrially grating for me to love on full-scale for any length of time. Even back in his early Rawkus days with Company Flow, his style was like quitting coffee after two espressos a day for seven years, in that it felt great at first but ultimately you started getting a pounding headache and wanted him to go the fuck away. So I’d barely given this album much attention back when it came out. However, upon revisiting (or “visiting” for most of it, if I’m being honest, which I might as well be because I’m the only one reading this actually, and even I’m not really reading it so much as writing it out loud, digitally), I found myself not too headached away from this tape. I still wouldn’t exactly pick it out if I had a three-day car ride ahead of me, but I can safely say I hate El-P a little less than I thought I did. (I’d still like to see a fucking Killer Mike solo album again though.) THREE STARS (***)!

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
(released October 22, 2012; #1 on 2012 Pitchfork Albums of the Year list)
This album is considered a modern classic, including by me, sort of, but my method of listening to music where wack ass songs get deleted helped me forget the very obvious corporate record label forced manufacturing that took place on this album. Like, I had zero memory of the song featuring Dre, and though I remembered there was a song with Drake, I hadn’t listened to it more than the two times it took me to delete that worthless shit when this came out. Those are two pretty big marks against all-time classic, because both are otherwise great songs that didn’t really need some proven seller chump motherfucker trashing up the track with garbage, but the record label gonna get what it wants, and force shit as far as it has to in order to get the proper sales. But having recently before this listened to Section.80, it made me sad to see artistic vision get filtered through corporate outlets. I mean, Kendrick still had his vision – the vignettes obviously weaving the tale of the young man ate the fuck up by a wild ass city. But they gave him some pretty bulky non-fitting blocks to tack into the project. Still though, there’s so many great tracks on here, and such a great album in its entirety. The MC Eiht feature makes good the negative of including Dre, and I still sing Kendrick’s Pop’s song – “girl… gurllll… I want your body, cuz of that big ol’ fat ass” about three times a week, often times directly to my wife. (She does not appreciate this, but woman have been culturally trained to think “big ol’ fat ass” is a derogatory view, which just drives home the point that culture is kinda some bullshit a lot of times, isn’t ?) Still though, nothing can excuse Drake. SEVEN STARS (*******)!


THE WINNER: I’m such a dumbass – I actually wrestled back and forth with whether I should put Killer Mike or Kendrick Lamar over in this trio, because both are so great. At one point, I was gonna justify eliminating Kendrick by the Drake feature, but that seems too unfairly harsh, as his vision for the album certainly outshines Mr. Rap Cosplay’s single verse. Strangely enough, ti came down to revolutionary theory for me, because both albums are pretty strong anti-establishment statements, but Kendrick’s tends to sink back to Christ as savior on this Earth. Accept Christ, and all the fucked up shit you are forced to suffer is okay. Killer Mike, though he clearly acknowledges his Christian-like beliefs in “Ghetto Gospel”, is not on that turn the other cheek tip. He knows that devils gotta be blasted back sometimes. It’s all like the term “jihad” in Islamic philosophy, which we know due to western media fear creation to mean a war against the west. But just as important (perhaps more) is the internal jihad waged in your own heart. I feel more attuned to that internal jihad, but not to the point I can ignore the external one that needs to be waged now and then to back those fuckers up and give people space to live good lives. I can’t accept Christ alone by himself as the sugar tonic to this sour ass world. So I give the win to R.A.P. Music.

M3N BV1LT FR0M S4M3 G3N3T1C...

men built from same genetic
mold, but each right-left forked choice
plucks the multiverse’s strings

C0NF3R3NC3 0F TH3 P0PL4RS...

conference of the poplars,
contemplating æther roots
balancing the ones in ground