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“Fuck is y’all thinking, focus!” shouts rapper Bear Witnez at the top of “Highlander.” “Midas got the oil light blinkin’/Bear the hottest shit smokin’.” With that declaration, and Freddie Mercury‘s unmistakeable voice, Bear opens the stampeding posse cut from Midas’ Pop Up compilation. Here, Pro’Verb, ‘Folkz, and Lyriciss deliver inspired verses on shoddy competition, Levi’s jeans, and Street Fighter and Contra. We can’t confirm whether Lyriciss slaps beats like E. Honda or if ‘Folkz has a 40 in his Eddie Bauer coat, but we’ll take ‘em at their word. —-Marcus J. Moore
PHZ-Sicks hasn’t released new music in almost two years, i.e. an eternity for listeners accustomed to instant gratification. On “Higher Ground,” the Woodbridge, Va., rapper tries to make up for lost time, using a Beyoncé-infused TNGHT instrumental to spit about, well, nothing in particular. Instead, it feels like a re-introduction driven by black TV references—BET, Video Soul, Big Lez, and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. PHZ-Sicks will release a new album, The Moment, this August. —-MJM
Last September, D.C. rapper Doe Cigapom and producer Soulful! showed continuity on Caged Birds, their collaborative EP that denounced gentrification and celebrated old-school Chocolate City. Here, Cigapom links with MOB on the nostalgic “Dew What U Gotta Do,” which also pays homage to the city’s uptown. MOB wields a tale of survival by any means: “Now ya mother was working late and ya pops was convicted/On the other side of the gate was the block and they flippin.'” MOB and Cigapom don’t endorse the street life, but they don’t sugarcoat it, either. —-MJM
On Sunday afternoon, music journalist and Rap Radar founder Elliott Wilson will bring his CRWN interview series to Howard Theatre for an interview with Wale. Wilson plans to interview Wale for an hour in front of a live audience, à la Inside the Actors Studio. No problem there—-Wale tends to have a lot to say, especially two days before his third studio album The Gifted drops on Tuesday.
After the chat and an opening set from The STNDRD—-winner of the “Gifted Heatseeker” contest that gave up-and-coming artists a shot at the warm-up set—-Wale will jump into a live show. Tickets for the concert are $35 in advance and $40 on the day of; tickets for the talk are $15 in advance, $20 day of. —-Julian Kimble