Standout Track: No. 2, “Fearless,” a floating concoction of ambient strings and celestial moans, on which D.C. rap duo The Other Guys refutes commonality. “What are you afraid of? Most are scared of change,” goes the chorus. “They’re scared to be themselves, so they’re all the same.” Over this nostalgic sound, rappers Joe Myles and Isaiah Mensah meditate on death and living life abundantly.

Musical Motivation: This song—the last one recorded for Joe & Insanate’s Excellent LP—was inspired by ’90s rap duo PM Dawn, a group known for its airy R&B ballads. “We wanted that vibe,” says Myles, who produced the track. “We used to do battle verses, but we got more feedback when we talked about real-life situations.” It also took a while to nail down a topic: “It was one of those beats where we didn’t know what to do to it,” Mensah says.

Echo Chamber: Myles and Mensah say they aren’t into today’s rap gimmicks; instead, they hope to make music that resonates with all types of listeners. But it’s been an uphill climb so far. The rappers are looking to build a brand and establish a following. “We just try to stay in our lane and do what we gotta do,” Myles says. “The idea is to just keep doing it and stay focused, and that’s what we’ve been able to do.”

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