Standout Track: No. 8, “Fiyah,” a golden era–rap tune inspired by 1990s mainstay Busta Rhymes. On it, local rapper Travis “Cane” Ludden lays down tongue-twisting flows and old-school hip-hop references over a soothing drum loop. “I inspire higher learning, but I turn into a dummy,” he rhymes, “’Cause cash rules, cream get the money.” It’s a rare original song on the Alexandria rapper’s new mixtape, Charles Street Chi, which is mostly built on other people’s beats. “My main goal was to get something out there for my fans and supporters,” he says.
Musical Motivation: Cane returned to his roots for his new project. As an upstart in Fredericksburg, Va., the rapper used already-established instrumentals because he didn’t have a go-to producer. “Fiyah” was produced by Cane’s friend, Lou Burna, who is from the Bronx. “He came up during that golden-era sound,” says Cane, 27. “I wanted to bring that old, crazy kinda feel. I wanted to get some good bars in there. I wanted to go off to the left.”
Woo-Hah!: Cane has made strides in a very short time. Released last summer, his Lucid Dreams tape offered an unconventional look at the life of an indie artist. Soon after, he won WKYS’ Who Got Next competition and was slated to open D.C.’s Rock the Bells show—until the tour, and its stop here, got canceled. Cane and Lou Burna are five songs into his next project. “This is something I’ve been at for years,” Cane says. “I feel like this is my year.”
Listen to “Fiyah” below.