Killer Mike

I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind, Vol. 2

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On the speaker-busting "Intro" to his third album, Killer Mike makes his modus operandi clear: "This is meant to be a soundtrack to your success ... Get up, brothers!" From there he's off, unflagging in his mission. Like his obvious template Ice Cube (who guests on the ardent "Pressure") Mike infuses his cut-rate braggadocio about cars and women with an intensity that rarely delves below apoplectic. His motivational creed reflects fellow Atlantan Young Jeezy but his logic is less altruistic, more ironclad, and not subject to dispute. A fire-and-brimstone morality informs his economic world view; haters, demons, and business rivals merge and swirl about the record and the emcee responds, back-to-the-wall, defeat unfathomable. "I hope they hate till their flesh burn and their bones ache," he seethes on "You See It," barely audible over the virulent beat, "I hope to God they see me shining and get so mad they pluck out their eyes." Mike's fury feels metaphysical and absurd: mortals quit jobs, Killer Mike fires his boss. It's a shame that this breathless performance is married to an album less musically adventurous, front-loaded with variation but then settling into a long stretch of merely enjoyable-enough window-rattlers. But even these serve to form a sturdy foundation over which the emcee can unleash his uncompromising talent.

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