Northwest D.C.’s Rahiem Supreme has positioned himself among the wave of neoclassical East Coast rappers contrasting lo-fi sample-based production with visually resplendent lyricism across a quickly growing catalog. Like fellow District rapper and frequent collaborator Ankhlejohn, his style fluctuates from project to project, ranging from cunning inversion of ’90s sounds to gritty narratives to somber autobiographical material.
Drip Bond, his fifth EP released in the last year, and first on the local Shaap Records, is a reverent listen, musically and vocally rawer than May’s soul-driven Black Cinema EP and April’sConnoisseur LP, his opus. Production is handled by New Jersey native All Ceven, whose beats have anchored recent projects by Cleveland’s Ice Lord and Hempstead’s Hus Kingpin. Ceven’s tracks on Drip Bond notably lack a studio polish, with vocals and percussion relatively low in the mixes. The effect is a distant vinyl quality not unlike the instrumental interludes slated between Pete Rock album tracks.
The elegant restraint of opener “Let Me Say My Grace,” a sequel to a track from March’s Vintage Fendi EP, gives way to the title track’s frenetic energy, Supreme’s breathless, slightly unhinged precision reminiscent of Richmond’s Fly Anakin. But on “Devilish Moments,” Supreme plays the straight man to Ankhlejohn’s unreliable narrator, the rappers trading bars over a soaring sax sample.
Even at only a minute-and-a-half in length, “Gefiltefish” is Drip Bond’s highlight, Rahiem’s flow evoking turn-of-the-century Noreaga. Ankhlejohn returns for the finale “It Was Me,” a slow, contemplative closer which lends an air of lamentation to the EP’s otherwise buoyant proceedings.
If Drip Bond doesn’t supply the dramatic high notes of some of Rahiem’s prior 2018 output, its old school sensibility and charismatic performances once again angle Supreme as a local artist with a real chance to transcend.