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Standout Track: No. 6, “Pluck ’Em Off,” an abrasive, percussive hip-hop track in which MC Sean Born decries gentrification and haters, while schooling the younger generation on the streets’ harsh entrapments. “I dap with thieves, half-hugs with murderers, mo/I rap wit ease, smash thugs wit murderous flow,” the Prince George’s County native rhymes over trunk-rattling bass drums and steady organ drops.

Musical Motivation: Born’s debut album, Behind the Scale, almost didn’t happen. The gruff rapper used to make beats for his friends, but stopped producing in 2004. “I think I lost the love for it,” Born says. “I just wasn’t feeling music.” That changed when Landover producer Kev Brown—who mixed and arranged Born’s new album—came back from playing shows in South Africa. Born says he was amazed that music could take Brown that far away from home: “That shit shocked the hell out of me.”

Hate Kills: With a renewed purpose, Born began to compile tracks for his album in 2009. In fact, the first verse of “Pluck ’Em Off” was written some five years ago. But while Born remains low-key, he has his share of haters. That’s too bad for them. “People from this area want to be told what’s hot,” Born says. “And a lot of folks experience that hate. The message of the song is ‘fuck ’em. Fuck what everyone is saying. Fuck ’em all.’”