Killer Mike Monster

Having guested on Outkast’s "The Whole World” single, Monster represents the logical step of Killer Mike into the solo spotlight, but it’s not clear he’s ready to leave the fold and definitively stake out his own space. It’s not for lack of trying. Killer Mike’s gruff delivery is his greatest asset and it’s informed by a tangible passion he brings to the familiar Dirty South sound. Nowhere is this more apparent than on "Rap Is Dead” where Mike tears into artists who borrow from Biggie, Tupac and Kurt Cobain for assured commercial success instead of charting their own paths. While his stance is admirable, aside from the cautionary message of "Scared Straight,” his efforts to follow his own advice whether he taps hip-hop or rock are curiously underwhelming. And then there’s "U Know I Love U,” a track that stands out for the wrong reasons as his emotional disclosure of a love-hate relationship appears to disturbingly condone domestic abuse. While he wants to present himself as a complex character, the reality is he seems most comfortable kicking his mack game next to Big Boi on "A.D.I.D.A.S.” and over Andre 3000’s production on "Akshon,” suggesting he’s not quite ready for the major leagues. (Aquemini)