Killer Mike – Michael

'Michael' is worth the wait.

Label: Loma Vista
Released: 16th June 2023

For a lot of Killer Mike’s early career, he was a hip-hop fan’s rapper – big in the scene but never quite breaking out of the bubble. Hitting the mainstream on fellow Atlanta natives Outkast’s ‘Stankonia’, then hitting it again with a feature on their Grammy-winning hit ‘The Whole World’, he went on to release five solo albums, all of which did well, but none of which managed to cement him as a household name.

That all changed when Mike linked up with New York rapper El-P to form Run The Jewels. Now a household name, Mike has used his platform to advocate for social causes, supporting Bernie Sanders and routinely making insightful and well-reasoned interventions on causes close to his heart.

‘Michael’, his first solo album in over a decade, is a reflective, autobiographical project which reaches back to a time before all of this happened. Never hackneyed or maudlin, it’s an unvarnished portrait of what growing up in Atlanta was like for the rapper, dealing with the death of his mother and living in an environment where selling drugs was considered unremarkable.

Mike is in impressive form throughout, smoothly and seamlessly switching from verses to hooks with the skill of someone who’s been rapping longer than some artists have been alive. Across a packed tracklist, ‘Motherless’ is the album’s beating heart, a moving tribute to Mike’s family elevated even higher by a flawless feature from Eryn Allen Kane.

Features are chosen impeccably throughout the album, slotting into the tracks without feeling tacked on. The Young Thug-featuring ‘Run’ is an early highlight, and Andre 3000 once again proves that he’s still unbeatable on ‘Scientists & Engineers’. Both of these, along with a 2 Chainz appearance on ‘Spaceship’, impeccably showcases the diversity and longevity of the Atlanta scene.

Leaving a decade between solo releases puts a lot of pressure on whatever you do eventually release, but ‘Michael’ is worth the wait. Run The Jewels may have been what catapulted Mike from the hip-hop scene into the mainstream, but this album will secure his legacy as one of the best rappers to ever come out of the South.

5.0 rating
Total Score

  • cover
    Dork Radio
Spector have released their upbeat new single, 'Another Life': "We must be getting old because we left the acoustic guitar in"
Humour have announced a new EP with an early teaser inspired by a 19th century rubber baron - check out 'Big Money'
Alex Lahey has announced a new deluxe album with bonus single 'Newsreader'