Killer Mike
I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind
Grind Time

you can call this a lot of things, but do not call my shit a mixtape!” So says Killer Mike towards the beginning of the street-released double-disc I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind. OK, fine, so we’ll call it an album. (As long as we can criticize it for sounding too much like a mixtape.)

Don’t get it twisted; Killer Mike is one of the most talented rappers alive. He’s a versatile MC who can bounce with the best trappers, while offering lyrical content to please even the most fastidious backpackers. He can spit as fast as Twista and get as crunk as Lil’ Jon. He’s as outspoken as (and smarter than) Kanye West. The best thing about him, though? He’s angry.

“That’s Life,” the obvious standout cut, is the most in-your-face, quotable track since…shit…well, let’s just say that nothing else comes to mind from the last few years. On it, Mike singles out every major public figure that has infuriated him recently and vilifies them seperately. Everybody gets a shout-out: from Oprah (for refusing to allow hip-hop artists on her show) to Martha Stewart (“So I could be a crook / Take money off the books / Just as long as I’m liked by a rich man’s wife?”) to Bill Cosby (for his hypocritical condemnations of hip-hop). Whether you’re a preacher, doctor, or politician (or didn’t give a quarter to that beggar on the street yesterday), Killer Mike has something to say about you; hence the third verse, dedicated almost entirely to the Bush family. Check the line:
George Bush don’t like blacks? No shit Sherlock!
And his daddy’s CIA flooded the hood with rocks
And his momma said the women ought to feel at home
Getting raped in the bathroom in the Super Dome.
The comment Kanye made was damn near right
But Bush hate poor people, be it black or white!
Other standout tracks include “Deuces Wild,” the hilarious tale where Mike turns the tables on some ignorant gangsters while being carjacked, and “Promise I Will Not Lose,” Mike’s response to fellow Purple Ribbon All-Star C-Bone’s Hot 107.9 slight. “The Next Bitch” personifies Mike’s various hustles as girlfriends; it’s like “Ex Girl to Next Girl” with crack, rap, and Corporate America. Mike still embodies that D-Boy persona, but his drug-raps are fashioned creatively and in a matter-of-fact way that rarely glamorize.

Where I Pledge falters is in its indecision. Is this a Killer Mike album or is this the Re-Up for Grind Time? By putting all of the posse-cuts on one disc, this problem would’ve been easily solved.

I Pledge, at the very least, proves that Killer Mike has a classic in him. Whether the bureaucratic bullshit will keep him from putting it out with proper support from a major label is another story.

Reviewed by: A.J. Henriques
Reviewed on: 2006-12-13
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