Knock Madness

L.A. rapper Hopsin has a history of offering blistering denouncements of the tired and overproduced stereotypical hip-hop that is often single-mindedly concerned with the trifecta of fame, money and bitches. On his fourth album, Knock Madness, Hopsin takes control of the conversation away from producers—and their checklists of buzzwords to be repeated ad nauseum—but he refuses to change the topic. The chest-thumping ego of “Hop Is Back,” the money moochers in “Gimmie That Money,” and the unfettered hate toward an unfaithful woman in “Good Guys Get Left Behind” all seem born from Hopsin’s personal life, with his pain and rage balanced by moments of self-doubt and vulnerability. The depth of feeling is most evident on “Old Friend,” a poignant tale of losing a childhood friend to a meth addiction. Hopsin’s depiction of an expressionless, aimless addict is haunting and his sense of loss is palpable. Knock Madness earns its “explicit lyrics” advisory label, but, here, the raw vulgarity is an effective tool for expressing difficult issues for the artist and for the rest of us.