Watch the Throne

Gunning to be a Rap God

words by Sunny Pruthi

From jaw-dropping freestyles to mixtapes, Carlos Coleman, popularly known as King Los, has never failed to disappoint. During his second appearance on Sway in the Morning, the now 33-year old Baltimore native stunned the hip-hop world with one of the best renditions of Sway’s “5 Fingers of Death” of all-time, rivaling those of other “5 Fingers” legends, namely Logic and Childish Gambino. A year later, he did it again, even as Sway threw tricky phrases like “Confederate flag”, “omnivore”, and “pomegranate”, Los continued to deliver his trademark rapid-fire flow.

King Los has solidified himself as one of the best freestylers out there. In addition, he’s received critical acclaim for his mixtapes, The Crown Ain’t Safe and Becoming King. King Los is consistently able to make music in a plethora of styles, from aggressive rhymes over louder beats to more relaxed thoughtful songs. With his debut album, God, Money, War, Los continues to demonstrate his outlandish flow and an ability to put out quality, thought-provoking music.

The album opens up with “War”. A soft piano beat plays as King Los chimes in with “It’s a war goin’ on”.  From the very first second, the song is amazing. It channels Lupe Fiasco’s Mural, as well as elements of Kendrick Lamar, such as the element of sudden gunshots, reminiscent of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”. What started out as a warning detailing the horrors of war and the influence of the media closes strongly with some amazing lines sung by Marsha Ambrosius.

The first thing of note about this album is that it’s quite aptly named. Every song on the album can be categorized into one of the three aspects of the title: God, Money, War. Songs like “Ghetto Boy” are of note, which had a relatively weak opening but eventually transforms into King Los going in on an aggressive The Blacker The Berry-style rant about the realities of the ghetto life and its lack of social mobility. Los slowly increases his tempo, drawing a parallel to the level of his emotion as the song progresses. Other songs, like “Blame It On The Money”, are more like mainstream bangers that wouldn’t be expected on this album. “Blame It On The Money” accurately represents the “Money” part of the album: less thought-provoking and lacking depth.

God, Money, War builds upon the quality of King Los’ rhymes with its features. Isaiah Rashad’s verse on Black Blood  is both memorable and reflective. The entire song is a tribute to those lost through hood violence, as well as overcoming the chains of that kind of life. King Los references the murder of his own father when Los was just 16, allowing us to share in the pain of his tragedy. It’s a meaningful song, with lines like “Black Blood make the grass grow in the ghetto”, which can be interpreted to mean that this violence is what fuels the hood and it’s a cycle that is difficult to overcome.

R. Kelly’s feature on Glory to the Lord is really fun to listen to. Even if the song is less reflective than others on the album, with references to being “at the club”, it still carries the overall message of overcoming and becoming successful despite a rough upbringing. R. Kelly hasn’t changed if this verse is any indication. It feels like listening to “Trapped in the Closet”, and the King of R&B doesn’t let listeners down. The hook on “Confidence” by Chrishan The Prince is smooth and sounds similar to the stylings of The Weeknd.

The main problem with this album is that it feels too disconnected. The first six songs are relaxed and contemplative, but with “Glory to the Lord” the album takes a turn into R&B. “Can’t Fade Us” doesn’t sound like a traditional DJ Mustard produced song at first, with a very enjoyable hook and island-style beat, but eventually Los and Ty Dolla $ign’s verses demonstrate the very different style this album is capable of. This isn’t even necessarily a bad thing, but there were no songs on GKMC that felt out of place. It’s hard to say the same for God, Money, War. The song “Slave” seems so far off from every other song that it’s a mystery why it was on the album at all. King, featuring Diddy also feels out of place, but much less so. Despite this, it was a great song, though perhaps not the best way to end the album.

King Los’ debut album is headed for success. The lyrics and beats are a departure from the style found on most of the songs on his mixtapes, but Los blends together multiple facets of hip hop to create a unique sound that fans of his freestyles will appreciate. Though it takes a sudden change in direction halfway through, it’s not too drastic that it ruins the entire album. God, Money, War is a great journey through the life of the Freestyle King, and it’s a spectacular effort for a debut album. Keep fighting and keep rhyming, King.