[dropcap]K[/dropcap]ing Los, at the age of 33, has finally released his debut studio album. Many expected his first official project to drop back in 2005 when he signed with Bad Boy Records, and then again in 2012 when he inked a deal with Interscope. However, when both deals ultimately fell through, fans were left waiting. Though that is certainly not to say that the hip hop community was being deprived of his music. Since 2008, Los has dropped an impressive fifteen mixtapes, all of which have received positive critical acclaim and continued to set the bar for himself as an artist. Add on the fact that the rapper is considered one of the best off-top freestylers to ever touch the mic, and one can understand why this album was slated as one of the most anticipated releases of 2015. Now, a decade after he first signed with a record label, Los gives us God, Money, War.
One of main things that strikes the listener about the album is the overarching theme of societal criticism and insight, first displayed on the single “War.” Fans of Los have been overly vocal about their preemptive concerns that the rapper was a one trick pony, capable only of clever wordplay and punchlines, but nothing else. Los has quieted these worries without killing them completely. While he does focus on some deeper subject matter, he doesn’t explore these topics as expansively as one might hope. Many songs offer a discerning perception of the three main topics of the album (God, money, and war) without ever becoming overly insightful. King Los gives listeners heady lyrics that surpass most rappers yet fall short of the brilliance of a Kendrick or J. Cole. That being said, King Los does have moments of wisdom that put his artistic vision on display. Check out lyrics from the title track, “God Money War:”
Mouths full of foul words but never put the hours in to get ours
Hours curse us, reverse ourselves cause cowards verse us
But we verse ourselves
War ain’t color blind but love is
And medicine isn’t healing but a hug is
And smiles don’t last forever but forever is
A mighty long time if you never smile, you never live
In spite of the meaningful lyrics displayed on several cuts of the album, Los does seem to give in to the pressures of mainstream hip hop at times. Some tracks on the album, most notably “Can’t Fade Us,” are thinly-veiled attempts at making a radio-friendly hit. Check out the colorful video for “Can’t Fade Us” below to see for yourself:
Production throughout God, Money, War is extremely well-done. The professional mixes and intriguing progression of the music elevates this project far beyond just another Los mixtape. Unique samples complement hard-hitting percussion sure to get any hip hop fan nodding along. All that being said, however, the instrumentals do leave something to be desired. Despite the polished sound of the project, there is little ingenuity in the production. Originality is sacrificed in favor of a sound that Los is proven to flow well over. As such, the rapper will not be setting any trends in hip hop as long as he continues to play it safe.
Features on the album fit in seamlessly, though none of the names are overly impressive. Diddy, R. Kelly, and Ty Dolla $ign are among the most recognizable features, though Los doesn’t shy away from the lesser known monikers as long as they can add to the music. In fact, out of the fourteen tracks that make up the project, only four do not have a feature. If anything, however, these tracks are stronger than those with features. King Los has no problem putting together a compelling piece all by himself.
Overall, this project proves King Los is more than just a freestyle aficionado. His lyricism translates extremely well to an album setting, and gives him the ability to write meaningfully for God, Money, War. Those who have yet to explore King Los as an artist will be pleasantly surprised by the depth of this release. Lyricism and profundity characterize this album in contrast to all of Los’s previous mixtapes. As such, this will go down as King Los’s strongest project to date, and set expectations high for future releases.