It’s a gross understatement to say the legacy of the late King Von is complicated. As a rapper he had an incredibly energetic and dynamic delivery. His gruff voice hit you straight in the ear without being filtered or modulated in any way, which made him a throwback among modern day artists. He was a hell of a storyteller too. Von had the ability to paint a picture with his words, and back in the times when getting five mics from The Source meant something, that was called “cinematic” rapping. Von could make you feel tension in the air when the opps were coming for him, and when he was making a jack move in his raps, it felt like you were riding shotgun.

That may be because Von lived it like he talked it. It’s nothing for rappers to brag about the number of bodies they’ve dropped, and as a Chicagoland emcee, Von undoubtedly witnessed more shootings than any young man should. The open question is whether or not Von was responsible for many of them himself. Von was arrested in 2014 on just such suspicions, but he was acquitted of all charges, so as far as the law is concerned he was exonerated. King Von was incredibly coy about it in his raps. He frequently made references to his rivals implying he was responsible when bad things happened to them. Posthumously the Chicago PD seems to agree with him.

Now personally I think it’s “sus” for the police department to throw shade on a dead man who can’t speak for himself. It strikes me as vengeful. They couldn’t get him while he was alive, so they’re spreading dirt on his name while his loved ones spread it on his grave. Whether or not you think Von is a murderer, that’s his son on the cover of “Grandson.” What’s the point of letting that little boy think of his pops like that? If it’s true he doesn’t need to know about it, and if it’s a lie that’s straight up defamation. There’s no question that King Von reveled in his reputation though, and you can hear it on songs like “Act Up.”

“I was a hot nigga, I was tryin to pop niggaz
I was tryin to kill ’em
Now I’m gettin money, got so much ice on me
I just be chillin
I ain’t gon’ change up, just ’cause this fame stuff
I keep a glizzy
Fuck nigga act up, then his ass gettin clapped up
Better not come near me”

What are we to make of King Von then? Are we to take him at his word that he popped opps without mercy, especially when a likely antagonistic police force agrees with him? Are we to assume he was just boasting and exaggerating for dramatic effect, pleasing fans with his “on the beat or the streets I be killing shit” attitude? I don’t know if Dayvon Daquan Bennett is a killer. I do know a lot of people THINK he is, and he certainly didn’t do anything to change that perception while he was alive. That perception may have become reality when he was involved in a shootout in Atlanta that cost Von his life. You may or may not like Von, but there are three children growing up without a father. If he was responsible for doing the same to any other fathers out there, you can only hope it gets sorted out in the afterlife, because it’s no longer a matter for us mortals.

“Don’t let them goofies touch my casket when I die
And when you leave my funeral, you better slide
But if they kill King Von, then something is not right
The opps don’t play with him, that happened from inside”

It’s a bit unnerving to listen to “Grandson” at times. Hearing Von rap about his death on “When I Die” is just like hearing Christopher Wallace say “you’re nobody ’til somebody kills you” after he was gone. King Von’s mom is in charge of his estate and reportedly chose the tracklist for this album personally, so you can’t call any of this a coincidence. She knows. We know. Besides… it’s not like Von wasn’t predicting his death on song after song, album after album. In a vacuum without any other considerations though this feels like what he would have released. Collaborations with G Herbo, Lil Durk, 42 Dugg and Tee Grizzley are not out of character. Some posthumous albums make the artist rap with people they never would have alive. “Grandson” feels honest — maybe TOO honest. Only God or whatever higher power you believe in can sort that out.

King Von :: Grandson
7.5Overall Score