Though his musical catalogue to this point has been somewhat limited, 88 Killa has been a name spinning in local hip-hop circles for quite a few years now. Formerly known as Killa MC, the rhyme mason gained a ton of experience in the late aughts in the self-described “punk-rap” Dallas group Brain Gang. In 2016, he released the well-received EP 88 BPM on London’s DEFDISCO label, which has helped earn him perennial nominations for best rapper in local music rags (including this one). Now, he’s finally set to drop BPM’s follow-up. 88 Special is hitting streaming services today as his first proper full-length.
Of the record, 88 Killa says he “wanted to showcase my affection for this city by taking listeners into my mind through lyricism backed by funk-influenced production.”
Through the nine bass-thumping tracks, 88 dives as deep as Jacques Cousteau into the standard bling and shine of the hip-hop lifestyle. He mixes in a dis track, “Never Switch’d Up,” with a sassy love letter to his hometown, “Stockyard Swangin’,” which he wrote “to troll people that try to act like being a rapper from a city with the Stockyards is something to be ashamed of.”
But it’s lines from tracks like “Saint Killa de Alta Mesa” and “Gold on My … ” that are veritable lab-grown brag-rap masterclasses. 88’s ode to his preferred swaggy outerwear, “Mink Coat Melody,” is the highwater mark in swagnificence.
“Tony Stark has his Iron-Man suit,” he said. “88 Killa has his mink coats. This song is what wearing a mink feels like.”
But it’s not all braggadocio. 88 makes many references to the birth of his new daughter and the effect it’s had on him. On “Risk,” he delves into what motivated him and many others to put themselves in harm’s way during the lockdown because they had no choice but be among others to work to provide for their families.
“That song was written to inspire all of the people that had to get outside and make something happen despite the world being turned upside down,” 88 said. It was “written during the thick of quarantine and with a baby on the way. I had to make a decision to either sit back and starve or take a risk and provide a means for us to not go without.”
To sum up the album and offer advice on the best listening experience, 88 says, “This is for the Gs that ride in cars with leather interiors and keyless entry. Strongly recommend that you listen to this project around 8:30 p.m. after you get your car washed while starting to get ready for a night out. Set your cruise control to about 73mph, slightly crack the sunroof, and place your right hand on your chick’s left thigh.”
The Fort Worth rapper will celebrate the release of 88 Special tonight (Friday) with pop sensation Ronnie Heart, The Delve, The Plum Boys, DJ Ursa Minor, and DJ Asa Ace at Lola’s Trailer Park (2736 W. 6th St., 817-759-9100). Since it’s a party for 817 Day, the show starts at 8:17 p.m. and tickets are $8.17 presale ($10 at the door).