Westcoast Long Beach emcee, KXNG CROOKED, is one of the most lyrical and greatest emcees of all-time, as well as one of the few more politically charged emcees left in Hip-Hop. So it should be no surprise that the LBC, Slaughterhouse and C.O.B. reps latest album, Good Vs Evil, which was released in conjunction with RBC Records, is a concept album about the good versus evil that permeates society with Crooked creating his own super-hero persona he plays in today’s socio-political landscape. As he wages an unapologetic war of words on the battle against racial and economic injustices, unprovoked police brutality (and the glaring lack of accountability), a deteriorating educational system, government agencies that willingly pump poison into its communities, systematic racism and a basic disregard for civil rights.
Following a “rebel leader in a parallel world” that is “a fictional story that mirrors reality.” Crooked said how this is partially from his perspective of if an Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald or any of these other unarmed Black men’s lives, who have been taking, actually fought back, as a revolutionary. This is most notable on the tracks Rebel Party and the Tech N9ne collabo, Shoot Back (Dear Officer). The Long Beach emcee declaring, “We ain’t Republican. We ain’t Democrat. We ain’t none of that. No Independent, no Tea Party; don’t fvck with that. We ain’t in the polls cuz we in the streets where them hustlers at. Fvck politicians, we kill machines, like rat-tat-tat-tat. We the Rebel Party.” While the latter track is an audible letter to the police officers who have been responsible for taking the lives of unarmed Black men.
A huge strongpoint of the album that makes it so great, is that besides its well-executed and dark-tone, there is some really great narratives, which really are helped brought to life by Crooked’s A-list of features from Just Blaze to Eminem, Xzibit, Tech and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. Em’s commentary on the intro to lead single, Welcome to Planet X, letting you know right away you are in an alternate parallel reality. Eminem commenting, “I live in a world that’s different than your world. Your world still believes in things like free speech and democracy. Those things don’t exist in my world anymore.” They really don’t either as Crooked very convincingly over the eerie beat raps about such topics as the destruction of the middle class, the plight of the poor and how it created this “new world order.” While on Dem People, X gives a great spoken interlude about how “the elite 1% controlled by the puppet master,” helped create all the problems that “fvcked up everything around” the people now.
The recurring “puppet master” (and his army of wealthy minions and armed robots) continuously oppressing the permanently disenfranchised towards a rebellion. It all culminating in the violent, I Want to Kill You, where Crooked pens a letter about being at war with himself over the constant conflict. Viciously rapping, “I’m knocking on death’s door/ Pen shaking in my hand as I’m writing my manifesto. I’m writing to let the press know, I never wanted you to be afraid of me but society created me and basically made a scarecrow. How can you fear what you sculpted, your chisel was the culprit. Your fingerprints are on my gun too.”
While the Long Beach emcee keeps consistent with his intent to shine a spotlight on everything he deems unjust in the world throughout much of the albums 14 tracks, there is one slip up with CrazyPsychoLoco. Not so much the subject of the track, as just that the beat is so commercialized and the melody so awkward that it sticks out like a soar thumb.
Though the overall tone of Good Vs. Evil remains raw, dark and edgy so you can more easily hear the urgency in Crooked’s voice, there are a few moments where the mood shifts to a more upbeat vibe. Most notably this is shown on Revolutionary Funk S with P Funk Pavarotti and the previously mentioned, Shoot Back (Dear Officer). Revolutionary Funk S being such a funky, fresh and straight fire track.
Whether it be on Obey (KXNG’s Speech), The Oath, KXNG Tut, Puppet Master or any of the other 14 tracks on Good Vs. Evil, you can really hear the hungry and raw emotion in every syllable that KXNG CROOKED utters throughout the album. Thus bringing to the forefront a critical need for action that’s really needed right now in such a blatant time of divisiveness. Crooked bringing such an authentic and real, unapologetic audible call to arms that demands to not only be heard, but processed with this album for this generation, in much the same way that Public Enemy, Ice Cube, N.W.A., Tupac and Dead Prez did before for previous generations.