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Los -- 'Becoming King' (Self-released)
DOWNLOAD: Los, 'Becoming King'
Rating: ** 1/2 (out of 4)
Los is probably the most technically gifted rapper to claim Baltimore as his hometown. His ability to stack words and syllables on top of each other -- and make it sound effortless -- probably explains why Sean "Diddy" Combs re-signed the Liberty Heights native to his Bad Boy label after initially releasing Los in 2008.
On his long-awaited and oft-delayed "Becoming King" mixtape -- which has more than 100,000 streams and 225,000 downloads on datpiff.com -- Los is mostly concerned with dazzling listeners with his flexible flow and his wordplay. We only get quick glimpses of Los beyond the standard boasting about women, money and the finer things. Over a bloated track list of 17 songs, that's not nearly enough.
When Los is locked in, he's a lyricist who demands attention. On "Becoming King," he's most successful on tracks without guests. "Hard Life" captures the hustle-by-any-means attitude of Baltimore through Los' double-time rapping. He overcomes a cliched concept on "OD" (money is his drug) by doing lyrical doughnuts all over a sinister Sonny Digital beat. "Why You Mad," produced by Baltimore's J. Oliver, addresses jealous foes with a technical proficiency that detractors can't deny.
But Los is becoming a major player at Bad Boy, and the features on "Becoming King" set out to prove it. He's sharing tracks with Ludacris, Wiz Khalifa, Pusha T and Juicy J (not to mention his boss Diddy). Too often, Los sounds like he's adapting to his guests' sounds and styles, when it should be the other way around. He's a chameleon in that sense, which shows his versatility but does little to establish his own voice.
If "Becoming King" proves anything, it's that Los could be too in love with his own skill, with many lines that will only impress fellow rappers and people obsessed with wordplay.
Wordplay is an important facet to rap, but it's not everything. Currently, Los may have the best chance to break through for Baltimore, but his depth needs to catch up with his talent. "Becoming King" is obsessed with regality, but it tries to place Los on a throne before he's ready. -- Wesley Case