Release Date: Nov 24, 2013
Record label: Empire
Third time’s the charm for horrorcore rapper Hopsin, as the angry and often awful character balances his aggressive, violent vocal style with more pop and approachable music during the rewarding Knock Madness. Check the superior single "Rip Your Heart Out" with Tech N9ne for the top-notch proof, but drop the needle, laser, or slide bar just about anywhere and the album consistently gives up shocking lyrics and infectious hooks. .
It’s been roughly three years since Hopsin raised eyebrows with the release of his Raw album—a project that essentially re-established the Panorama City, California native via his Funk Volume imprint after an initial run with Ruthless Records. Those with even a moderate interest in Hip Hop’s day-to-day news cycle have since seen his impact: bolstering the roster by signing Dizzy Wright and Jarren Benton (with the former landing the same vaunted XXL Freshman Class honors as Hop), the occasional beef and overall increased expectations. So after all this time, exactly what is inside the ill mind of Hopsin? It turns out to be a hell of a lot.
XXL Freshman Hopsin is as well-known for amassing a mini-independent empire — which includes his label, Funk Volume, and amassing over 120 million YouTube views — as he is for the largely unreturned salvos he's fired at rappers Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Odd Future. Three years after the release of his breakout album Raw comes Knock Madness, a self-produced, 18-song return that sees Hopsin turn his multisyllabic flow inward, focusing on the anxiety that comes with newfound fame. Early album cuts like the bouncy "Hop is Back" and aggrieved "Who's There," alongside label-mates Jarren Benton and Dizzy Wright, serve as low-stakes showcases of dexterous double-times.
What truly lurks inside the ill mind of Hopsin? That is something the lyricist’s annual video series of the same name could never really answer, not with any real depth at least; those records are small pieces of a much grander, more vivid sonic puzzle. There is a great deal rustling around the cranium of Marcus Hopson, and it has far less to do with hostility or antagonism than his confrontational reputation suggests. Hopsin seeks simply to be understood, and he is slowly learning that giving that vulnerability a voice in his lyrics makes for truly inspired music.