On this follow-up to King Mez’s last producer-meets-emcee project, The Paraplegics, recorded with rising Raleigh producer Commissioner Gordon, Mez sacrifices his introspective touch for a load of self-assured work with North Carolina’s best beat statesman, Khrysis. Just like the Academy Award-winning film The King’s Speech, Khrysis is Geoffrey Rush to Mez’s Colin Firth. He tutors his young leader-in-the-making through a trial of vigorous beat workouts.

This six-song set is a proclamation of the aggressiveness previously missing from some of Mez’s work. The opening track, “Reaching Out (Intro),” finds Mez putting forthright rhymes upon Khrysis’ tormenting beat. Equally as brief, haunting and rewarding are “Nightmare” and “Something’s Missing.” Some of this angst could either be attributed to the recent loss of his mother or just an answer to some unfounded local speculation about Mez being an overrated overnight sensation. If the latter is the case, then the title track should shut down all such claims. Mez pairs himself with N.C.’s throne holder, Little Brother’s Phonte Coleman; they both splinter their verses.

Even still, Mez is just as convincing when he’s by himself. He knows that the kingdom won’t simply be handed to him, that he’ll have to be a hard-willed monarch to gain the respect of his peers and followers. On “Nightmares,” he addresses this notion: “Ambition wrapped around my neck like tightly coiled steel/ There ain’t much I can do/ It’s like an oil spill/ My life been hard, and I’m under the soil still/ So I leave the milk out/ wanna know how them spoils feel.” Soon enough.