Killer Mike, ‘I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II’ (SMC)
Michael “Killer Mike” Render follows a long tradition of fiery street rappers with Black Panther complexes. Best known for raining hardcore rhymes on OutKast’s otherwise cheery hit “The Whole World,” the bellicose Atlanta MC unveils a violent worldview on I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II. He puts the “Pressure” on “black pigs who killed Sean Bell” and “dirty niggas working for a fuckin’ Clinton,” and then portrays a dope dealer gunning down a rival “dyke bitch” cocaine overlord on “City of Dope.” Mike’s bullying rap style powers Allegiance, but he nearly drowns under an uneven mix of gangsta fantasies and muddled politics. The music, a series of predictable keyboard-heavy beats, doesn’t help illuminate his colorful, maddening contradictions.