To this day, Hopsin remains the enigma of the hip-hop community. He’s one of the most talked about and talented underground rappers of his generation. His shocking lyricism and universally viral “Ill Mind” video series eventually brought him from “internet sensation” to where he is now: former XXL Freshman, one of hip hop’s most exciting young performers, and CEO of one of indie music’s hottest new labels, Funk Volume. FV has been SO successful, that many argue its signees have already surpassed Hopsin in both popularity and ability. After all, he seems to just fade in and out of relevance every couple of months when he makes a new non album internet single. Well, Hop is back, and with Knock Madness, he intends to keep it that way.
Knock Madness was one of the most anticipated releases of 2013, and rightly so. After labelmates Dizzy Wright and Jarren Benton’s latest projects have been successes, an FV follow-up from the boss himself was due. And with Knock Madness, as usual, Marcus Hopson rarely disappoints.
In terms of production, Hopsin’s talent behind the boards tends to go unnoticed as he is known more so to be such a potent lyricist. His ability to capture a sound and use it to support his unique and often bizzare flows gives him a distinct leg up on all emcees. While dual threat rapper/producers are nothing new to hip hop (Eminem, J. Cole, Childish Gambino, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi, Kanye West; the list goes on), none succeed in matching the very essence of every word they utter like Marcus does. Hopsin is the sole producer on 17 of the 18 tracks, co-producing “I Need Help” with Funk Volume’s official DJ, DJ Hoppa.
The album is roughly split into three rough acts, if you will. Act one is best described as a rabid beast let out of a cage. Hop goes on the warpath with the opening “The Fiends are Knocking”, followed by lead single “Hop Is Back” and the Dizzy Wright and Jarren Benton assisted “Who’s There?”. The slaughter continues through track five as Hopsin and Tech N9ne once again team up on “Rip Your Heart Out.” A chaotic yet brilliant backdrop on “Rip” literally bounces off the barrage of ammunition Hop and Tech provide like a rock bouncing off lake water.
The second and third acts are generally less intense, with tracks 6-8 serving as an intermission before Hop goes to war once again, but this time over extremely diverse sounds and tackling a more diverse set of topics. His love life is the recurring theme that stands out most, but rage at fake friends and unhappy fans are also prevalent. Not only does Hopsin take his war to a different population, but he also travels to world as well. Him and SwizZz become lyrical Navy SEALs in “Jungle Bash” while he is transported back to lunchroom tables and adolescent freestyles on the “Lunchtime Cypher.” As the album concludes, Hopsin has no more hate to give and collapses in on himself. Too much external pressure and internal turmoil simply run him dry as the album concludes, but by that point the damage is done. Hop has made his permanent mark on the game.
There’s not much to dislike about Knock Madness. Hopsin holds true to his word and keeps the features organic and utilizes them when fit. Singles such as “Hop is Back” and “Hip Hop Sinister” will do the trick in peaking YouTube hip hop heads in this album while the rest of his work on Madness is diverse enough and up to par enough with the singles to avoid pegging Marcus a one trick pony. At the end of the day however, the battle is over. Blatant honesty remains Marcus’s weapon of choice and while the bloodthirsty craze from early on in Knock Madness is eventually replaced by somber self realization, the listener’s core is left shook regardless. Hop is here to stay.
1) The Fiends Are Knocking
2) Hop is Back
3) Who’s There? (feat. Jarren Benton & Dizzy Wright)
4) Tears to Snow
5) Rip Your Heart Out (feat. Tech N9ne)
6) Nollie Tre Flip
7) Give Me That Money
8) I Need Help
9) Hip Hop Sinister
10) Good Guys Get Left Behind
11) Bad Manners Freestyle
12) Old Friend
13) Still Got Love For You
14) Jungle Bash (feat. SwizZz)
15) Lunchtime Cypher (feat. Passionate MC & G-Mo Skee)
16) Dream Forever
17) What’s My Purpose?
18) Caught In the Rain
Chris Webby: Homegrown