Bad Boy Records (2013)

One good quality about Bad Boy Records is that the Diddy-helmed label has managed to reinvent itself over the years, constantly rejuvenating itself with new talent. Evidently, it’s part of Diddy’s business model. The problem with this approach is that artists’ tenures on Bad Boy tend to be tumultuous, as the expectation for megahits comes with the territory. These days, Bad Boy’s hallmark is having a diversified roster, uncharacteristically led by the coke-rap champ French Montana and the wild antics of Machine Gun Kelly. So, where exactly does Los fit in? Is the rapper a sixth man or the sixteenth man?

Los has been quite the enigma. The Baltimore-bred emcee has released numerous mixtapes but hasn’t exactly broken through in the same way that, for comparison’s sake, Maybach Music Group’s Meek Mill has. It could be because Los (born Carlos Coleman) hasn’t had a single that garnered the kind of heavy buzz that label mate Montana’s “Pop That” has, and it very well could be that Los has been waiting for his time to shine in the Bad Boy pecking order. And a recent event outside of music – the birth of his son to rapper/vixen Lola Monroe – may have slightly elevated his relevance.

It turns out Los may be Bad Boy’s best kept secret. While the title of his latest mixtape Becoming King may seem a little presumptuous, the Maryland rapper shows promise with a very strong collection of songs. Production is very diverse and features the familiar signature of Bad Boy Records – reworked records. Producer Harmony reworks the Biggie/112 hit “Sky Is The Limit,” which finds Los channeling a Nipsey Hussle flow in describing his aspirations for success. He continues to show off his emceeing skills on the Tank chorus-featured R&B/rap tune “We Ain’t The Same,” which also contains an intricately delivered verse from Twista. Los shows great promise in being able to switch his delivery, a skill that shouldn’t go unappreciated by rap fans across the spectrum.

It becomes apparent that being signed to Bad Boy means calling in favors for verses from Ludacris is not a problem, such as is the case with the Dot Pro-produced and Diddy-featuring “Disappointed,” on which Los has arguably the best verse. The instrumental and the song itself sounds like Rick Ross album material, in a good way. Los is most effective and tends to stand out in collaborations, and on Becoming King, in addition to the aforementioned, he’s got quite a few others. The 1500 or Nothin’ and Rob Halladay-produced “Burn Slow” changes tempos and moods and features a hazy hook from Cassie. Just as lovely is the soulful, empowering “Nighmares of Being Broke” with Raheem DeVaughn. For good measure, there’s another Wiz Khalifa/Cassie collaboration in “Weak” and even an attempt at singing while remaking “Love You Down” produced by Misfit Beats.

Los’ Becoming King, if nothing else, sheds the enigma that has previously surrounded him. He is no slouch as an emcee with all the ambition in the world, if not a unique voice to separate him from his peers. With a collection of songs that could very well have made a debut album for Bad Boy Records, the Becoming King mixtape captures a developing artist with a great ear for beats and a versatile rapping ability. As he continues to develop, King Los may emerge as one of Bad Boy’s brightest talents.

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