After garnering attention from his first album, Raw, and earning a spot on the 2012 XXL Freshman List, Los Angeles-based Hopsin has released his third album, Knock Madness. The rapper — known for his aggressive, dark style and lyrical attacks on other established artists — keeps up more of the same on Knock Madness.
The album comes amid a whirlwind of Hopsin hype, but the album brings an expected vibe, as Hopsin produced almost all of Knock Madness himself, just like he did with Raw. Many of the beats feature a dark tone reminiscent of a young Eminem’s sonic stylings. Hopsin’s hooks are almost all sung and his features are kept to a minimum (any features are generally supplied by his labelmates). The album’s themes touch upon lost love, violence, fame and anti-drug use. All of these elements might leave people asking, “What’s different about this new album?” Well, besides allowing listeners three years to forget his formula, he has at least made one major change which will surely cause some mixed reactions from long-time fans: throughout Knock Madness, Hopsin doesn’t diss any mainstream rappers and he finally keeps quiet about his beef with Ruthless Records.
This album shines in its individual tracks and their quality goes in streaks. The beginning doesn’t start off nearly as hot as it should, but by the album’s fifth track, “Rip Your Heart Out”— which boasts a standout feature from Tech N9ne — Knock Madness has a 15-minute stint of top-notch music before falling into another lull. But not to worry: “Old Friend” and the following few tracks bring back the glory once more before the album’s unsatisfying end.
After making a shocking introduction with Raw, Hopsin just doesn’t have the same shock value he once had. The aggression of his rhymes just seems dull this time around. In order to stay relevant, Hopsin needs to strengthen his flow or experiment with more complex lyricism to fill the faded shock value’s void. Hopsin is hit or miss in delivering on these needs. Songs like “Hip Hop Sinister” fail to bring anything more than yelling with a little rhythm into a microphone. He says “Good Guys Get Left Behind” is “strictly for the ladies,” but there aren’t too many ladies who enjoy hearing their own getting demeaned and subjected to violence. Knock Madness is a refreshing sound and offers Hop’s thoughts on a variety of topics but numerous tracks just fall short.
Overall, the album’s production is on point, and Hopsin is essentially the same old guy that fans came to know and love. But it doesn’t live up to the hype of a project that took three years to make. However, tracks like “Gimme That Money,” “I Need Help” and “Still Got Love For You” are absolutely too good to miss. Knock Madness may not have been worth the wait, but it is definitely worth the listen.
2.5 out of 5 stars