Killer Mike - I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II

Posted July 7, 2008
Tags: Killer Mike,

I pledge allegiance to the grind of the United Streets of America. And to the hustle, for which...

I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II Album Review

I pledge allegiance to the grind of the United Streets of America. And to the hustle, for which it stands, one nation, under a flow, indivisible, with Cadillacs and cash flow for all. Or at least that’s how it would sound if Killer Mike had his way. From selling dope to national notoriety to going independent, it’s been a long, hard road for the heavyweight Outkast affiliate. Released off his own label, Grind Time, Killer Mike’s latest album, I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, is a testament to perseverance. Or, as he puts it on the intro, it’s “the soundtrack to your success.” In fact, Pledge Allegiance does more than prove he can....hold on....I’m sorry. I can’t go on without addressing something first.

There was nothing better than hearing Killer Mike’s shotgun blast verse blaze an Outkast track, he was the perfect balance to Andre 3000’s poetic musing and Big Boi’s heavily rhythmic flows (see Snappin’ and Trappin’ for reference). Together they formed the ultimate crew. Well those days are gone, maybe forever. It’s sad, but we’ve got to get over it. Because what we’ve lost in epic collaborations we’ve gained in Killer Mike himself. Meaning we get to see Killer Mike clearly. No behind-the-scenes forces, no major label rep pushing him to do catchy radio tunes (I’m looking at you A.D.I.D.A.S.). Just Killer Mike, large and lyrically armed.

So what does Killer Mike sound like when he’s left to his own musical devices? He sounds like 10 G’s, a southern soaked track with a bass line that pounds so hard it could jumpstart a dead man’s heart. The core of Mike’s rap power is in his uncompromising flow, a verbal assault that at its best resembles a speeding train that’s come off the rails. On 10 G's he lightens his delivery just an ounce to better ride the bouncing beat, and the result is a surprisingly rhythmic joint, but you didn’t go to a Tyson fight to watch him throw jabs, and you don’t listen to Killer Mike for catchy hooks. You listen for songs like Pressure, an uppercut of a song that starts with a Malcom X clip and ends with a predictably sick Ice Cube guest verse, all sandwiched around some militantly hard lines from Killer Mike: “Motherf***ers, I just bought some new Chuckers, old ones bloodied up from stompin’ out suckers.” As a general rule I like any track whose first word is “motherf**kers” and that’s why I’ve had Pressure on repeat. I suggest you do the same.

With all that power it’s easy to overlook Killer Mike’s lyricism. Luckily, Pledge Allegiance gives us plenty of verbal finesse as well. Take God In The Building, a track that’s religious only in the sense that, much like man upstairs, Mike smites fools with a terrible vengeance. Over the album’s best production, a soaring yet gritty angelic symphony, Mike lays it down on a biblical level: “If Jesus came back where you think he be? Probably in these streets with me.” This is the reason God gave us speakers; use them accordingly. Similarly, Mike displays his narrative abilities on Good Bye (City Of Dope), a track that chronicles a dope dealers life; think American Gangster if American Gangster happened in the South and involved lesbians. At his best, could Killer Mike be one of the pound-for-pound greatest rappers alive? Should MC battles have weight classes? Come on, I can’t be the only one who thinks of these things.

Pledge Allegiance isn’t flawless, far from it. I mean, there is 2 Sides. Now I’ve come to realize that Shawty Lo is the hip-hop equivalent of Terrell Owens; if he’s on your team you f**cking love him, if not you can’t stand him. So I completely understand why the real Atlanta people will eat up Shawty’s appearance on 2 Sides, but I’m no Atlanta boy, and I have to much respect to pretend to be, so I’m not feelin’ it. Which, in a way, is the entire point of the song. The same thing goes for I’m The Shit, an ill-advised hard rock combination, and Can You Hear Me, the latest addition to the recent “corny 80’s songs turned bangers” trend. But ultimately these aren’t “bad” songs so much as they’re “not great” songs. I Pledge is still better than 97 percent of the bullsh*t out there, so if you’re going to pledge allegiance to something, you could do a lot worse than saluting Killer Mike.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted July 7, 2008
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