The past couple of years have seen America marred by police brutality and the all-out circus that was the presidential race, but as KXNG Crooked maintains on Good vs. Evil, those issues are nothing new to the masses — nor will they be resolved amicably.
The dystopian LP teems with insurrection and orchestrated anarchy, which may sound like the makings of a concept album, but Crooked doesn't sabotage its purpose by veiling it with metaphors or stuffing in superfluous tracks to pad the narrative. The wordsmith ominously asserts things are bound to get worse before they get better, and drills the message home through 14 tracks thanks to some niftily programmed 808s, which work in tandem with the MC's rhymes to bring the carnage to life.
Crooked wastes no time introducing the disenfranchised to their parallel counterparts on "Welcome to Planet X (We're Coming for You)," just one of many cuts accusing the recurring "puppet master" (and his army of wealthy minions and armed robots) of oppressing the permanently disenfranchised towards rebellion. The menacing track sets the manifesto's tone, which peaks with "I Want to Kill You," a violent culmination of said oppression that Crooked efficiently sums up in a single, chilling bar: "Your fingerprints are on my gun, too."
As deftly as the Long Beach native predicts this unenviable fate, Good vs. Evil is not without a few left turns. Crooked abruptly deviates from the otherwise focused and potent proceedings to indulge in self-aggrandization on "Intergalactic Hustling" and "KXNG Tut," while "Shoot Back (Dear Officer)" stands alone as both a moving piece of storytelling and a sonic anomaly, as its repurposed piano and drums stand in stark contrast to the ruckus that sandwiches them.
Still, though Good vs. Evil may be a tough pill for the everyman to swallow, it's one KXNG Crooked rightly insists must go down nonetheless. (RBC)