Album Review: United States of Mind – Kill the Bullshit (2009)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Potholes
After a strong showing by its members in 2008, United States of Mind is ready to do the same in ‘09. So far, it’s looking good for the Detroit crew. Zo! & Asylum 7’s Overdue Process was a refreshing way to start the year, though technically Zo! is not a member of USM. And now we have a full-fledged posse record with Kill the Bullshit, an overall solid effort that falls into an all-too-familiar rut here and there.
For most of its 14 tracks, Kill the Bullshit remains in the dusty, gritty underground, thanks to producers/DJs Crate Digga and Sleepy Biggs. Though a more developed and balanced sound would have taken their work over the top, one cannot deny what they have done on here. And with only a slight misstep on the beats side to be heard, it would be safe to say Digga and Biggs have stolen the show. But of the two men behind the boards, Digga deserves the most attention, partially because he handles nine of the 14 beats. And while he typically sticks to a grimy script, such as on the solemn “Nicotine” and the ominous “Superbanger”, he also succeeds when stepping outside of his comfort zone. Both “Alien”, in which he incorporates warbled synths, and “Distortion”, which features scrambled eggs drums, drive that point home. That all being said, though, Biggs brought his A-game, too, for the far too short “Why?” interlude and “Funkshun”, an impressive and dirty headnodder.
While the producer duo certainly takes the wheel on here, the emcees – A7, D. Allie, Metasyons, Draztik, and 5-Ill – bring their fair share of heat. And that remains true even with a few blunders, such as the dreadfully mundane “Bold & Embarrassing” and the whiny “USM Represent!”. Each emcee shines brightest when tackling subjects outside of their comfort zones, which seems to be a shared cynical and stereotypical view. “Froze Tongue” is one of the strongest examples of this as both A7 and Metasyons offer up personal verses to which we can all relate – these two also kill it on the introspective “Truth Through Life” as well. And, though it’s more braggadocio than insightful, D. Allie’s fire-breathing verse on “Distortion” is both intimidating and rewind-worthy. As for Draztik and 5-Ill, they bring the lyrical pain for the two fantastic posse cuts, “No Hook” and “Superbanger”.
Altogether, this is another fine collection of hip-hop anthems sure to further expose this talented crew. But it’s still telling of how these guys need to continue grinding because even at their best, they still fall victim to the underground stereotypes of rhyming about the bullshit of the music industry. Let’s just hope none of them become complacent, because with a little growth, there’s no telling how far USM could go.