I dig Maxo. He’s the all-too-rare example of a rapper who progresses with each record. His early work is pretty standard “trap or die” stuff–albeit done with extraordinary skill and style in both lyricism and delivery. But with each album he has gotten increasingly personal, and with Weight of the World he raps almost exclusively about how he continues to be shaped by his family experiences, like the death of his father. Even the release date of the album has personal meaning for him…

He talks about the benefits of gang affiliation to a guy who makes a career off trap tales–but also how that backfires. Like on the brilliant “They Say,” where he disses himself (through the eyes of others) for not being “crip enough,” and then responds in his own voice.

And on 11:59, where he admits to having done “so much leg work my legs hurt,” but it’s on an album that, in totality, reflects his desire to be seen as a person with broader understanding of the world and a wider range of experience than just being a gang banger.

Maxo Kream doesn’t need to rely on guest shots, but he’s got a couple well-placed ones: Tyler, The Creator and A$AP Rocky make fine contributions.

He’s also still a big fan of all things hip hop, paying tribute to the greats of Southern rap, telling “when I was a kid” stories that are standards for the genre, and just generally having fun while making provocative and very, very smart songs.

Maxo Kream can certainly be funny–his bars are infused with dry wit–but he’s serious-minded. He’s not content just to keep going the way he has been–and moving units in the process–but instead continues to evolve, making him one of the most interesting rappers around today.

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