"History has a funny way of repeating itself." America is about to put yet a another dubious leader in the Oval Office, leaving KXNG Crooked wondering what it would take to break the vicious cycle that's come to define the lives of the 99 percent.
The artist formerly known as Crooked I has posited some theories with his fervently anti-establishment album, Good vs. Evil, out now on RBC Records. The 14-track manifesto takes the listener through a chaotic, near irreparably divided universe in which the masses violently rebel against the same laundry list of injustices their real-life counterparts are subjected to, from police brutality to the by-products of a perpetually damaged political system. Its premise may earn it the label of "concept album," but Crooked need not sugarcoat the issues at hand.
"To be direct for sure, just to say 'ok, let's take these same type of players, place them in an environment where the people don't go for the bullshit at all,'" Crooked tells Exclaim! "Let's see what kind of world that creates, and could this be a prediction of what could happen in our reality?"
Good vs. Evil was born months before the Long Beach native's fellow Americans deemed Donald Trump a suitable leader, but now that the new president-elect is weeks away from taking office, Crooked fears the "clock of progress" could turn the wrong way and the LP's ominous predictions might soon come to fruition.
"Trump's sitting at one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful seat in the world. He has caused that first domino to fall. So now we just watch and see where it leads, because he is really reckless.
"He's already promoting division, he has people on his staff who have said publicly all types of racist comments, so he already has a lot of division and hate in his machine. So we might see something crazy, bro. Something we thought we were past, something we thought could not happen, may happen."
Crooked appointed his own "puppet master" to act as the LP's primary evildoer, a creation he readily describes as a more power-wielding version of the president-elect. Whether Trump proves worthy of the sinister equivalent remains a 50-50 proposition, says the wordsmith.
"He's going one way or the other. He's either gonna make all his followers upset and just be a moderate Republican president, or he's gonna keep good on some of those promises and be the puppet master."
But four years of expected unease shouldn't deter Crooked and his partners in rhyme from championing the oppressed. While he, Termanology and YG are just a few of hip-hop's latest luminaries-turned-activists, the culture's A-list needs to heed the cues of its golden age and put its status to use before reaping its benefits.
"A lot of people have made some songs and tried to make a change and bring hip-hop back to what it was in the golden era, as far as educating people. It was 'edutainment.'
"Go have fun, go to a strip club, do whatever you want to do — we're not judging none of that — but we do need the mainstream section of hip-hop to be more educational, more back to the essence of what it is and what it's supposed to be in the mainstream. Then everybody else can have their fun. I don't care what music they make or what kind of stance they take, as long as the meat and potatoes of hip-hop is the real shit."
As far as his own self-appointed duties go, the newly shifted political landscape appears to have further fuelled KXNG Crooked's artistic fire.
"I'm not a big Hilary supporter. She's a career politician, so that just lets you know she's gonna lie to the people just as much as anybody else. But I will say this: there's a different threat with Trump in there, and I think it goes along the lines of the Good vs. Evil concept, so I feel like him being in office just gave me a reason to do a Part 2."