In just a few short years, Red Pill has already become a powerful mainstay in hip-hop's underground culture. The Redford native and Michigan State grad nudged the door open with 2012's Dream Within a Dream. He opened it a little wider with 2013's The Kick, a collaboration with Hir-O. Then he blew the hinges off with Ugly Heroes, a collab with the highly touted producer Apollo Brown.
Red Pill is now a member of the Mello Music Group, and Look What This World Did to Us plays like a 12-track diary. It's Red Pill's blues over boom-bap beats. It's the kind of album that makes you feel like you're reading Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man. Red Pill still brings the punch and flow we're used to, but with much darker introspection and purpose this time.
The album jumps off with "Meh," a track about everyday existence and the line between appreciating reality and still trying to reach for your goals. The song is relatable as the chorus goes, "I guess just bored/ I guess I'm just meh/ I guess I want more/ I guess I'm just blah/ I guess I'm so-so/ I guess I'm doing fine/ I guess I'm doin' alright/ I guess it is what it is."
A super slick piano loop drives "That's Okay," in which Pill focuses on not sweating the small stuff and looking forward to the next day, while "Smoke Rings" is about using daydreams to escape the harsh troubles of real life.
"Rap Game Cranky" is the most creative track on the album. It's a vent toward the music industry. You might think of it as an updated and more vengeful version of The Roots' "What They Do"). Pill raps, "Started from the bottom and I'll stay there/ Never played the game because they don't play there." "Windows" is the darkest track by far: "I told him I needed money/ He said how fucking much?/ Just for a couple weeks/ A couple hundred bucks./ As soon as he told me yes I thought about/ How embarrassing it is to feel down and out," Pill raps, as exposes his insecurities.
Red Pill lyrically reminisces in "Kids," and he spits more of his life's gloominess on "Blus." "What the fuck is going on/ I'm 25 without a basis yet to grow on/ No foundation, I feel like a newborn on the ground naked," he raps. The songs "Rum & Coke" and "Drown" both carry on in much of the same fashion.
"Leonard Letdown" is deceptively funny. Pill glides through the track throwing out a litany of bad luck events. There are "Missing a chord to your Nintendo," "Cops giving you the third degree," and "I'm a forgotten anniversary," just to name a few.
Kuroi Oto, L'Orange, Duke Westlake, Castle, Hir-O, and Reed Ellerall provide stellar production. The beats never deviate from Pill's boom-bap style, while managing not to sound too similar to each other, either. Pill's honesty and openness is commendable and brave. He lays himself out there so much, that it will be therapeutic for some (and probably himself also). However, many may feel Look What This World Did to Us is too melancholy. The dark mood is constant here — there is simply no light at the end of the tunnel. If you're a part of this hip-hop world that lusts after one-hit wonders and club singles, then you might sleep on the realism and rawness of this album. But if you lust for poetic realness, this might be your favorite new joint.