Staying true to the mission statement of his self-started rap label, Funk Volume, Hopsin delivers his signature style with a matured tone on his third studio released album, carrying a heavy and cohesive message throughout: Time changes everything. Knock Madness is the recognition of the ever-altering times from young and reckless to the moment in one’s life where the realization occurs that the important things of the past are, really, quite trivial.
“Hopsin there’s people you have to save. This is beyond music… Damn. I have that much if an impact?” This line, coming from the first song on the album, “The Fiends are Knocking”, addresses the main theme of this album, asking the question if a person is able to truly stay rooted without being influenced by their surroundings? Hopsin divulges from the start of his album about the conversation that arose from his cover appearance on the XXL: how can this Californian, Tech N9ne-sounding rapper respond to the recognition he’s receiving? Will he buy into the hype or can he keep his antagonistic, poetically tormented rap style while catering to a wider listening audience? Hopsin answers these questions with this album. A lot of his tracks begin with a mainstream style, but as soon as Hopsin’s vocals hit your ears, it is a soothing reversion to the antagonized mind and lyrics of the 28-year-old.
My favorite track on this album is “Gimmie the Money”. With a funky guitar riff and a bouncy flow, Hopsin deals with the troubles of obtaining fame and the fair-weather friends and women that find their way into his life. He delves into the hard truth of the music business and the people who will come around when a little fame and fortune are obtained. No new friends for Hopsin. He’s not afraid to make some enemies, either, calling out other artist as heard with shots at Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar on “Hop is Back”. Hopsin denies any malice in his Kendrick quote on an interview with Hard Knock TV, but it just demonstrates his mentality as a rapper and his attempt to revive competency in hip-hop.
A true sign that an artist “gets it” is their ability to point out the flaws in themselves as opposed to the flaws in others. Hopsin was always considered a professional when it came to dissing the third party, but Knock Madness opens the doors to the troubles of his life that comes in various forms. He speaks of his trouble finding true love (“Still Got Love for You”, “Good Guys Get Left Behind”, and “Dream Forever”), dealing with fair weather friends (“Gimmie that Money” and “Lunch Time Cypher”), and especially the pressure that comes with maturing as an artist and the expectations of his mainstay fan base (“The Fiends are Knocking”, “What’s My Purpose”, and “Caught in the Rain”). Hop is able look back not only on his career as a recognized rapper, but the things that have changed since he was child, such as the ode to his boyhood crony taken under the chokehold of crystal meth in “Old Friend”.
Hopsin doesn’t claim to have all the answers, just a set of beliefs that have got him to this point and he lets this be known as the his album comes full circle. Both the intro and the finale track fittingly deal with a self-conflicted artist stuck between the mainstream pressure and limelight and the roots that led him to this album. The chorus ends his outro “Caught in the Rain” as he says “I’m feeling so confused cause I don’t know who the hell I am”, perfectly setting up the potentiality for Hopsin to completely switch up his style in his next album which, or to remain true to his rap upbringing and continue his heavy, alliterative sound.
Knock Madness is Hopsin’s search for who he is and who he is to become. This album will elevate him as a rapper can be a major building block in his career. Want to know what’s on the ill mind of Hopsin? Take a listen and he’ll tell you exactly what he’s thinking.
3.5 out of 5
You can buy Knock Madness on Amazon.