Mike D’Angelo, G.O.N.EMHG/Cash Money Records
Mike D’Angelo is an outlier. He’s a new school trap rapper with an old school sensibility. He proudly flexes his hip-hop knowledge naming Ice Cube, DJ Premier, and A Tribe Called Quest as his musical influences. He’s also an accomplished producer, equally adept behind the boards or on the mic. A hip-hop renaissance man who can create a blazing track and then spit 16 vicious bars on top of it.
His undeniable talent and extraordinary drive were recognized by rap mogul Birdman, the CEO of Cash Money Records, and he swooped down last year and quickly inked D’Angelo to a recording contract. The first single on Cash Money, “Trap House,” was released in the spring and was very well received. Last week, D’Angelo dropped the G.O.N.E. (Grind Or Never Eat) mixtape, a robust collection of freestyles over industry tracks and classic hip-hop beats.
G.O.N.E. is 22 songs of unbridled lyricism. Thematically, D’Angelo doesn’t shy away from his rough upbringing growing up in the Edgewood section of Northeast D.C. Much of the subject matter examines the hardships of D.C. street life. But D’Angelo doesn’t excessively glorify the negative experiences—he tells his life stories in a straight forward yet colorful manner. He vividly explains how he survived and excelled without becoming a victim to that environment. On the nostalgic “Make A Wish,” D’Angelo warmly remembers how his mother made ends meet even during tough financial times.
“We were so poor I would never get a gift/ Mama right behind me with a candle and its lit/ Said the world is yours then gave me a kiss/ Singing happy birthday go head make a wish”
RIYL: YG, The Game, Fat Trel
Chelly The MC, “Northeast Baby”Self-released
It’s been a good year for local female musicians—and Chelly The MC is up next. She was born and raised in the Mayfair/Paradise neighborhood, and her infectious new song “Northeast Baby” leaves no doubt about what side of town she represents. Chelly picked up the mic at age 15 and didn’t look back. Her fiery bars, vibrant personality, and magnificent red hair distinguish her in the crowded field of D.C. rappers. When Chelly was younger, she was known for hanging out around the Minnesota Avenue Metro station. But now as one of the area’s most promising young artists, her time is spent more productively: in the studio recording new music, shooting videos, or writing fresh material. It doesn’t matter how famous she becomes, or how far she travels from home, Chelly will never forget where she came from—she’ll always be a “Northeast Baby.”
RIYL: Remy Ma, Dej Loaf
Brain Rapp, Roller CoasterDope Music Village
Brain Rapp dropped his new EP Roller Coaster on August 16—the official date of “National Roller Coaster Day,” and he created a tightly woven project brimming with crisp wordplay and clever punchlines. The roller coaster is used conceptually throughout the seven-track EP as a metaphor for the ups and downs and twists and turns we face in our everyday lives. Brain Rapp takes us on a thrilling expedition as he examines the meaning of his existence intellectually, artistically, and romantically. By the final song, “Thanks For Riding,” he arrives at the proper conclusion: “On a quest for a connection who has the Wi-Fi to lend?/ ’Cause in the end all that really matters is family and friends.”
RIYL: Lupe Fiasco, Andre 3000, Oddisee
Boogiie Byrd, “We Need”Murder Inc. Records
D.C. rapper Boogiie Byrd is a key member of the new Murder Inc. Records roster. Legendary hip-hop producers Irv and Chris Gotti, who made Ja Rule a superstar and were instrumental in the careers of Jay-Z and DMX, selected Boogiie Byrd’s song “We Need” to lead the soundtrack for their highly rated BET show TALES. Boogiie Byrd also has three other tracks on the compilation album Irv Gotti Presents TALES The Playlist: “Troy’s Theme,” “Good Die Young,” and “My Time,” a collaboration with Fitted Circle. Murder Inc. may have struck gold with Byrd. He’s a dope, versatile artist who can change flows with the best of them. He can give you calculated cool on “We Need” then switch up and reveal his frenetic genius on “Murda Murda”—an amped-up single he released earlier this year.
RIYL: 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Shy Glizzy
Tarica June, “Selfie”Self-released
Tarica June fearlessly uses her music as a platform to address social issues. Her 2016 song “But Anyway” was a sarcastic takedown of D.C.’s gentrification dilemma. And this year her new single “Selfie” is a joyous self-empowerment anthem about the politics of black hair. The lyrics are aimed at people of color who go overboard conforming to the European standard of attractiveness. But she isn’t throwing malicious shots at the insecure females who wear blonde wigs. “Selfie” is an inspirational hip-hop song that celebrates the innate beauty every woman is blessed with at birth. No snapchat filters are necessary, the chorus says it all: “I love my selfie just how I am/ No perm, no weave, no bleaching, no ma’am.”
RIYL: Rapsody, J. Cole, India.Arie