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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Watch Killer Mike's 'Reagan' video

I was just thinking the other day how predictably ironic it was that the most critically acclaimed rap album of 2012, R.A.P. Music, went totally unrecognized at the BET Hip-Hop Awards last weekend. Not to mention Killer Mike is Atlanta to the core. It's not as if he's too far removed from mainstream hip-hop's worldview, either. After all, this is the dude that won a Grammy with OutKast a decade ago, he was "Never Scared" with Bonecrusher and T.I., and he's been on that "Kryptonite" with Big Boi. He even thinks most "conscious music is pussy" — a point-of-view that, on the surface, would seem to align him with rap's poppier side.

Yet Mike's collaborative album with producer El-P has been largely ignored by rap's mainstream conglomerate. Perhaps because it was released by independent label Williams Street Records — an offshoot of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim channel. Williams Street founder Jason DeMarco has talked about how the album has broken down a lot of walls between mainstream and indie rap. But it still hasn't broken through to commercial radio. Of course, R.A.P. Music has only been out for five months, so it's possible that it came out too late to qualify for a BET nomination nod. But the more likely reason is that the album's sociopolitical content is a little too potent for corporate radio and TV, alike.

Today, Pitchfork.TV released the latest video from the album. It's an animated joint for the song "Reagan," and like the visuals for "Big Beast" and "Untitled," it's another doozy — full of stark animation depicting the politically corrupt Iran/Contra affair that begat America's street-level crack trade and came to define the Reagan era.

A harsh critique of the money-politics-prison-industrial-complex mix, and the kind of rap that feeds into it, certainly isn't the stuff BET Awards and commercial radio spins are made of — but perhaps being ignored by the Viacoms and Clear Channels of the world offers a special kind of validation in itself.

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