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March begins with a loaded installation of the Breaks as Marcus Moore joins the mix once again. Logic’s return to Maryland, Martell Webster’s introduction as a rapper, a refreshing 1978ers remix, and an ode to Starbucks are all here.
Logic’s Triumphant Return
Maryland rapper Logic made his homecoming on Wednesday, performing the first of back-to-back sold out shows shows at the Fillmore Silver Spring. It marked Logic’s bighomecoming after the release of his debut album, Under Pressure, last fall. Although last night’s show was cancelled (don’t worry, it’s being rescheduled) due to this inconvenient March snowfall, he gave fans plenty—including a big thank you—during the first performance. —Julian Kimble
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The Humble King and the Afro
The 1978ers’ People of Today was easily one of the DMV’s best albums of 2014. While it’s technically a rap record, yU’s panoramic flows and SlimKat’s wistful beats feel remarkably nostalgic. Although it plays well in totality, certain songs—namely “P.O.T.” (Act II and III) and “one-nine-7-T-8”—stand out from the rest. To my ears, “Sacrilegious” is the album’s best track, so a new—albeit brief—remix makes perfect sense. On it, yU spits the song’s first verse and chorus over a ?uestlove drum break. “I found the Questlove drums and chopped some sounds to put over it, and somehow the rhyme for ‘Sacrilegious’ was in the same pocket,” yU wrote on his Bandcamp page. “Damn near forgot about it, ‘till I came across it after we released the album.” This floats by too quickly, but it makes me wonder how yU might sound on a Roots album. A “Double Trouble”-esque track with he and Black Thought? Who knows. yU has two new albums—the vocal In the Listener’s Stance, and the instrumental Culture > Couture—slated to drop this year. —Marcus J. Moore
Don’t Call Him Martell Webster, Call Him Sui Generis
Washington Wizards forward Martell Webster is reintroducing himself to the world as Sui Generis through his rap career. The Seattle native founded his own label, Eryst, with friend and producer Neil Von Tally. The video for Webster’s debut single, “Disposition,” serves as the crisp official launch of his alter ego. Directed by Jesse Vinton, it works the “Nature Boy” angle heavily, placing Sui Generis and Von Tally out in the wilderness.
Here’s the elephant in the room: Athletes often venture into other endeavors on the strength of their fame, not talent. But Webster’s use of a rap pseudonym shows a conscious effort to try and distance himself from his name and jersey number.
Sui Generis isn’t bad as an MC. He takes this rap shit seriously, which he conveys at the beginning of the song’s opening verse: “Who am I? Sit back/True story, legit facts.” The novelty factor of an NBA player-turned-rapper may be hard to ignore, but some pro ballers can actually rap. Look at Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
Sui Generis’ debut album, A.R.T. (Anybody Relates to This) is due out later this year.—JK
Black Lives Matter
We see Kokayi’s son, Dahvi, walking the streets alone. He plods wearily along the path, but he’s strong enough to reach his destination. Kokayi’s new video for “Part of It” aligns nicely with the song—an upbeat yet somber tune dissecting social decay and our role in it. “We are all a part of it,” Kokayi says in an email. “We as a society have left our choices to other people and are rather flippant about the power we yield. We’ll poke our heads in the dirt and opt for someone else to do it—for others to protest, for others to vote.” The video, directed by Magee McIlvaine, takes its cue from recent events: Following the senseless, well-publicized killings of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, it’s easy for black men to feel demoralized. But after his journey, Dahvi makes it home to a hug from his dad. That kind of love is what makes the struggle worthwhile. —MJM
Winning Big with Shy Glizzy
Credit Shy Glizzy for creating an endless stream of metaphors for his success. On his latest, “Score,” the D.C rapper equates prosperity to the oft-used basketball metaphor. The song’s artwork features a faceless entity clutching a gun in one hand and the Larry O’Brien Trophy in another. “He shoot, he scores/As soon as I walk in the door—swoosh, I score,” the hook goes, complete with the sound of a buzzer going off for emphasis. You can never say Shy Glizzy lacks confidence. —JK
Rob Regal Bares His Soul Once Again
Just a week ago, I was praising Rob Regal for his brutal honesty in his music. With “Cigarettes,” he takes it a step further, expounding on what’s kept him away from music. The short answer? Real life. Too often, the public forgets that artists are actually human beings. Part of being human is dealing with life’s tribulations, which is precisely what he’s been doing.
When Regal speaks of his father, who was left partially paralyzed by a stroke, listeners can feel the pain in his inflection: “He used to run the football field, now he can’t use a wheelchair.” Other verses focus on seeing how brutally the world has treated his daughter’s mother, as well as his own. Cigarettes are the unhealthy crutch he’s relied upon.
Regal’s ability to face his own demons is why he remains one of the area’s most insightful lyricists. —JK
Speaking of black pride, that’s how DTMD rapper Toine opens “Our World” with fellow MCs Sean Born and BOOM. “I ain’t ya average black male that can rap well,” he asserts over a silky Dunc instrumental. The song, a bonus cut from Born and Dunc’s Organic, isn’t overly complicated: It’s just three guys doing what they do. It recalls the EP’s brassy ethos and gives new life to a severely slept-on project. —MJM
Trappin’ Out of Your Local Coffee Chain
In light of yesterday’s infuriating snow, it would be criminal for me to close out this week’s column without mention of “Trap Out the Starbucks.” The infectious single comes courtesy of Pacman, Abu Rahss, and Nine Five. Pacman is one-half of Pacman and Pe$o (who you’ll remember from their highly publicized North Korea excursion); Abu Rahss is his manager, Ramsey Aburdene, using his rap name; Nine Five is, uh, Nine Five.
The video’s snow scenes make it appropriate for the moment, but it’s the notion of trappin’ out of a Starbucks that’s hilarious became it’s extremely authentic. In hip-hop, the “trap” is typically a location where drugs are sold. (Perhaps an abandoned building?) In this case, it’s a caffeine slinger, and it’s not necessarily about selling drugs—it’s about work. What writer can’t relate to that grind?—JK