In the early 1990s Ice Cube shocked the rap world with his socio-political themed albums. In 2011 we’ve seen a few rappers continue this trend, most notably Pharoahe Monch and Saigon. While both of these rappers released excellent albums, neither of them seem to give me flash backs to jheri curl Cube, quite like Killer Mike on his latest long play, Pl3dge. On his third installment of I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind series, Mike raps with ferocity and an angry tone that can only be compared to the West Coast legend: “you become a sociopath flipping birds, the same mind state, it takes to build a Build-a-Burger, or an Enron or any other big con, that can fleece a million people out of billions.”
Mike finds a comfortable balance between heavy subject matter tracks and bangers. The production shines on the banger tracks, most notably lead single, “Ready, Set, Go” which features T.I. and is produced by No ID. Killer Mike delivers some of Pl3dge’s best braggadocio over the trippy vocal samples and 808s. Mike steadily outperforms his guest spots including the Young Jeezy on the potential club banger “Go Out on the Town” and Twista on the southern, summer time vibe track “Player’s Lullaby.” What initially sets Pl3dge apart from previous Killer Mike albums is the much improved production throughout. But Mike’s socio-political content, sets this album apart from other southern emcees.
Killa Kill is at his best on socially and politically themed tracks, including two of the album’s premier tracks, “Burn” and “That’s Life II.” The Latter, which is a sequel from one of the stand out tracks on the first I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind album, Mike raps: “you can disrespect presidents and call them socialists, but Palin and Pelosi both gonna have you broke as shit.” He touches on the importance of religion on the sequel to “God’s in the Building,” and corrupt big businesses on “American Dream.”
While most of Pl3dge ranges from good to excellent, there are a few skippers on the record. “Follow Your Dreams” feels forced and fails to hit the mark as an inspirational track. “Animal” is just a mess, from the annoying synth work to the awful Gucci Mane guest verse. But overall Killer Mike and Pl3dge is focused, hard hitting, a little pissed off at the way things are, and overall a breath of fresh air.