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Rapper Phil Adé had an unlikely brush with politics at the Broccoli City Festival last spring when D.C. Mayor Vince Gray introduced him at the show.
It was a weird moment for the audience and Adé himself. The mayor looks more like a smooth-jazz kind of guy. “The first song I performed was ‘Paper Over Pussy’ as the mayor walked by,” Adé says with a laugh. “That was kinda awkward, but it’s cool.”
Adé is set to release R.O.S.E. (Result of Society’s Evil) next Tuesday, the rapper’s first mixtape since 2011’s #PhilAdeFriday2. It was one of four mixtapes Adé dropped that year.
So why the long wait between projects? “I wasn’t making the music I wanted to make, and how I wanted to make it,” Adé says. “I didn’t have a project that meshed with one sound. With R.O.S.E., I feel I have that. I’m making a statement of who I am and who I choose to be.”
When he’s working, Adé spends lots of time on tour and away from his family. “My mother lives by herself,” he says. “There were times where I didn’t talk to her for two weeks. I had to build that relationship back up with my mother and siblings. I feel like I’m more focused now because of that.”
Adé first made a mark in 2009 with Starting on JV. Powered by the catchy “Hollywood,” the expansive mixtape showcased Adé’s lyrical and vocal dexterity. From there, the rapper released a string of projects over a short period of time, including The Letterman, #PhilAdeFriday, and A Different World, among others. For a while, it seemed Adé was the city’s superstar-in-waiting. That was until the gritty trap-music specialist Fat Trel took that spot.
“I felt like it was just his time, and it wasn’t mine yet,” Adé says of the rapper. “Trel represents a side of D.C. the world hasn’t seen yet. He personifies the inner city and is a better representation of D.C. artists. I feel like I’m the next rapper to come out of Maryland. I wasn’t ready at the time. I feel like I’m ready now.”
R.O.S.E. is out July 30 on 368 Music Group. Listen to his recent single, “Xscape,” below.