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Standout Track: No. 11, “Farewell,” a contemplative track from rapper Kenn Starr’s new album, Square One, his first LP in eight years. On “Farewell,” the Bethesda resident uses a Marvin Gaye-inspired tune—courtesy of producer Kev Brown—to ponder personal struggles: Starr (born Kenneth Jones) didn’t stay in church, his girl takes issue with his weed consumption, and he could’ve been a father by now. “It’s hard to be celibate when ya head is up in them skirts/Led to an accident, ain’t thinkin’ ‘bout having kids/’Till my first child got miscarried before the birth,” he rhymes. Guest rapper Sean Born lends a reflective verse about being there for his family.

Musical Motivation: Starr says he loved the instrumental from the first time he heard it. At the time, Brown was creating a series of beats that sampled Gaye, and “Farewell” was one of them. “I never had the nerve to ask him to do something to the track,” Starr says. “It was so special and so crazy to me.” During a recording session, producer/rapper Kaimbr suggested that Brown let Starr rhyme on the track. “I didn’t think he’d go for it, but I’d already been writing to it,” says Starr, 31. Once the song was done, Brown agreed it was a good fit for Square One, released by Mello Music Group last week.

Déjà Vu: Starr had a track on his debut album, 2006’s Starr Status, called “Know Too Much (To Go Back)” that also addressed his grappling with what’s right and wrong. He sees “Farewell” as an update to that piece. “The difference is my ability to execute these sentiments on a record, whereas before I was still trying to figure that out,” Starr says. “As emotional as ‘Farewell’ is, there’s no compromise in its technical proficiency. I poured my heart out. I left it all on the table. It’s probably the most transparent record I’ve done, period.” 

Stream “Farewell” after the jump.