In many cases, it's evident when an artist doesn't want to be considered run of the mill or typical, which is the case with King Chip and his new mixtape, '44108.'

Right off the bat, the Cleveland, Ohio MC -- formerly known as Chip Tha Ripper -- tries to separate himself from stories of packs being sold and clips being emptied, but that doesn't mean he goes the conscious rapper route or even spits like a party-guy rapper.

On songs like 'Vortex' featuring Kid Cudi and Pusha T, Chip delivers verses in a spoken-word delivery, while showing traces of vulnerability as he talks about his perfect female counterpart. But thankfully, it doesn't come off as overly sensitive or mushy.

With 'Blk on Blk,' he mixes a chopped-and-screwed flow along with a punchy southern-esque double-time delivery to talk about the happenings of his local Cleveland neighborhood.

Cardo, the producer of the cut,  uses clean and sharp keyboard sounds that surround Chip's decisive flow in a way that works fairly well. Some of the other producers on the tape are Trakksounds, Rami, Big Duke and Jake Troth, and they all deliver solid tracks.

But probably the highlight of '44108' is the song 'Another You,' featuring Kanye West, where Chip uses a laid-back rhyme style to express the fondness he has for his lady. For some reason, the track is the only one on the tape that doesn't list the producer, but it sounds like Kanye could have easily been behind the boards, because it has that soulful 'College Dropout' feel.

Fortunately for King Chip, the production throughout '44108' is pretty solid, which adds some necessary flavor to his sometimes bland lyrics. The project has some good lyrical moments, but those moments are just good, not great, and there are too many over-the-top talented lyricists in hip-hop to come halfway.

Flow-wise, Chip pretty much sticks to more or less the same pattern of rhyming, aside from a few songs, which can get a bit monotonous towards the project's end.

And the lyrical pictures he paints aren't vastly different from what you've heard before. But again, there does seem to be a want from Chip to lyrically separate himself from the pack, but for some reason he's unable to pull this off consistently.

Like on the song 'Thornhill Dr.,' where Chip misses a prime opportunity to use vivid details to pull the listener in and explain the inner workings of that particular block. Some might say if you're going to write verses about a specific place or situation, you better paint the picture entirely and don't leave the listener with any questions.

After the song, the listener isn't any more knowledgeable about Thornhill Dr. than when hearing the beginning of it. And sadly, there are a good number of songs on '44108' that suffer from the same problem.

All in all, King Chip shows he's a talented MC, with just enough presence to make you pay attention to what he's saying. The problem is, once you pay attention, there isn't really much of a wow-factor to his rhymes, which makes the entire project suffer.

Because let's face it, being good just isn't good enough these days. Not in a rap world where every rapper is going back to the drawing board because of Kendrick Lamar's 'Control' verse, and the focus is more on lyrical skills. If King Chip wants to maintain the large following he's built since 2007, he'll have to come a little bit harder.



Listen to King Chip's '44108' Mixtape

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