Don't Sleep: Necessary Notables
Indie LP: PL3DGE
Headliner: Mike Bigga p.k.a. Killer Mike
Key cameos: T.I., Young Jeezy, Twista and Gucci Mane
Essential info: Killer Mike is as imposing vocally as he is physically, from his riotous verses on "Pressure" to his outspoken (and instructional) social commentary. But when the Atlanta rapper decided to put together the third volume of his Pledge series, he decided he needed to make a change.
According to Mike, it didn't matter how loud he said something if listeners decided he was yelling at them instead of raging with them. So for "Burn," a smoldering call-of-arms cut, he learned less could mean much, much more.
"When I went into Pledge III, I knew what I was doing on Pledge I was right, but I knew I needed to cut the amount of songs down," Mike told Mixtape Daily. "So on, Pledge II, I cut the amount of songs down and I was so voracious through the whole thing. ... NPR named it their album of the year. Now, I'm like, 'I will focus on voice.' "
He took a page out of Busta Rhymes' book of rhymes, noting how the veteran MC went from his "roar, roar" style to one in which he used his voice "more like an instrument."
"I needed 'Burn' to be as powerful as 'Pressure' but I needed it not to sound so angry that it turns people off," Mike explained. "So I thought of emotions that Americans are feeling besides anger — it's a seething feeling. It's not just 'I'm mad,' it's a seething anger. When you see banks let off the hook for millions and billions of dollars and the same banks a year later are telling you, 'I'm gonna foreclose on your home,' it don't matter if you're black, white, Asian, Dominican or Puerto Rican, what matters is that anger, the red in your eyes."
The result is not only an anthem for folks fighting the recession, but also a record that has found itself in rotation and posted on multiple blogs. "I used my telephone voice and, to be honest, it's created a new way for me to make records," he revealed.
PL3DGE is due for release on April 19, and in addition to Mike's musical pursuits, the rapper also recently appeared on MTV's "Made," where he served as a mentor to a young man who was being bullied.
"They were just great people," he said of the boy and his family. "Anybody that listens to the Pledge series knows that my music, beyond being dope music, is motivational. Listening to me, for a 'hood dude, is like listening to Tony Robbins. 'Made' gave me an opportunity to help a young man express himself through rap about some things going on and it also gave him an opportunity to be a youth counselor. So everything I been saying in my music, I was able to apply with this young man to the real world.
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