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Standout Track: No. 6, Radio Rahim‘s vivid “Just a Passage,” in which the stentorian-voiced 27-year-old Centreville rapper and activist contrasts his respect for his family with some deep suspicions about society in general. Boston producer Confidence backs the lyrics with a loop of a bluesy guitar lick and a staunch boom-bap beat.
Musical Motivation: “I wanted it to be, from beginning to end, glimpses at myself,” says Rahim, who reimagines his own birth as the initial expression of lifelong skepticism. “My mother held me in her arms, looked me in my eye/’My dear baby boy, please give the world a try,’” he raps. His father is also in the scene, saying “Son, you’re a warrior, don’t even stress.” That general theme—“don’t be too surprised if something horrible happens…or if something good happens,” as Rahim puts it—colors subsequent verses.
Ladies’ Man: Although dad—earnest, hardworking—figures prominently in the song, Rahim self-identifies as a mama’s boy. “I grew up with a lot of women in my life—four sisters, a lot of aunts and everything…bouncing back and forth between the DMV area and down South, where a lot of times it would be just me and my mom, or me, my mom, and my sisters, just because of family dynamics,” he says. “My dad…he provided, but it was difficult. So I had to assume that position of responsibility—picking up bills, driving, watching some of my sisters, babysitting, and then getting a job very early…and ever since then I’ve never stopped working.” He’s been back in the D.C. area since 2011. “I love the South. I love it…But it’s just not my scene, it’s too slow down there.”