Sunday, August 31, 2008

Killer Mike - I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II

If you are a casual hip-hop consumer, you probably have heard of Killer Mike through his past affiliation with the Outkast camp. Not content to languish with the other Dungeon Family weed carriers, he cultivated a rabid following in the Dirty Dirty and used that buzz to broker himself a deal with Outkast's (mostly Big Boi) Purple Ribbon imprint. His hustle was strong and his rhymes were tight: Killer Mike seemed poised to make big moves on a national level. 

Purple Ribbon seems to be the textbook example of how vanity imprints seem to be a great idea, but can really be a death sentence for up and coming artists. Case in point would be Purple Ribbon flagship signees Bubba Sparxxx and Killer Mike, two killer MCs and artists who have really pushed the envelope when it comes to hip-hop. Sparxxx hit with "Ms. New Booty" and Killer Mike managed to corral his Outkast bosses into his first hit single "Akshon", but both artists soon started grumbling about the Purple Ribbon release schedule and promotion budgets, with Killer Mike falling out most prominently with Big Boi.

This fall-out prompted the usual ridiculous spate of shit-talking, mostly from Big Boi's coterie of weed carriers and ancillary dick riders. To his credit, Killer Mike has established himself in the Bumpy Knuckles paradigm, wherein it's all about number one and you don't deal with underlings. He has stayed clear of the shit-talking, preferring to deal with the chatter when it's in his face and then let his fists do the talking. While he has had occasion to lay the smack down on a big-mouthed underling or two in recent years, Mike has always been forthright in the fact that his beef was with Big Boi, not with anyone else. It appears that both parties have been able to speak face to face and call a truce, a reconciliation allegedly fostered at the behest of Boi's young son Cross. 

While that seems a little too storybook for A-town, this mending of ties seems to bode well for the release of a major label-driven Killer Mike release as alleged at the Sony site here, but in the label limbo Mike has thrown his formidable business mind into his independent releases. His first I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind release sold a ridiculous amount. It did more than keep the lights on, it practically bought Mike the electric company. Volume II is out on SMC Recordings, an prosperous indie label from the Bay Area that trying to expanding their focus and make big moves on a national level, recently releasing the last two Pastor Troy records and even rolling the dice on a new CNN release. Snatching up one of the heaviest hitters on the Atlanta independent scene seems to be a logical addition to the formidable SMC roster.

Killer Mike has always been a thinking man's rapper, and while he's not above using a screwed and chopped loop and teaming up with Shawty Lo for the crunkified "2 Sides", he's at his strongest when he's dropping reality on tracks like "Can You Buy That?" or teaming with Ice Cube on "Pressure". Cube and the aforementioned Freddie Foxxx seem to be the forefathers that Mike is aligning himself with. All are artists that have realized that if you have your business right, you can say whatever the fuck you want. Rather than using that freedom to indulge in horrorcore Fangoria-isms or misogynistic sex rap, Killer Mike is playing the Chuck D/David Banner card and calling out names; skewering the government, the complacent and the shit-talkers while calling for a revolution not today, but yesterday.

You can buy I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II on Itunes and here via quaintly named Independent As Fuck group. Revel in your Independent as fuckitude there and check the links below.

the eighteenth letter

for added fun, check out the counter that says
Bring Killer Mike To New York and note that
while there are many solicitations for KM to 
come to NY, none seem to be from from actual 
New Yorkers. Not sure what that means.

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