Phil Ade’s Return

At one point, it seemed Phil Ade dropped a new mixtape every month. I mean, hell, he dropped four tapes in 2011 alone. Then seemingly as suddenly, the Prince George’s County rapper disappeared—-taking time away to perfect his craft, he said at April’s Broccoli City Festival. But this week, Ade returned with “Nas Told Me,” the first single from his forthcoming project, R.O.S.E. Over a piano-laced tribal beat, Ade excretes self-loathing with a hint of sarcasm: “Everything that I do is wrong, everything that I do is sin/All I do is get hoes and money, tell me when is that supposed to end.” Is Ade is ready to re-enter the scene? At one point, Ade looked like the city’s next big export—-until Fat Trel soaked up most of the attention. R.O.S.E. is due out in July. —Marcus J. Moore

Hello, Kwame Darko

Maryland rapper Kwame Darko recently released the video for the Felix Snow-produced “Bet They See Me Now.” The clip, directed by Omari Williams and Walu—-they were also behind Wale’s 500 Days of Summer-inspired video for
“The Break Up Song”
—-is simple. It’s just Darko on a rooftop, rhyming in front of images from his past and then celebrating his success with the people who the mean the most to him.

It’s been an interesting journey for the University of Maryland grad, who stepped away from a promising soccer career to pick up the mic. He addresses this with the song’s opening statement (“Took a minute now I’m right where I’m supposed to be”), which he delivers like he’s screaming it from the top of a mountain. Success takes time, but if his opening for G.O.O.D Music’s Big Sean at The Fillmore in Silver Spring last month is any indication, he’s on the right path. Oh, and he knows Olympic soccer player Hope Solo, so there’s also that, too. —-Julian Kimble

The Lyrical Test

In this era of glossy hip-hop, it’s rare for up-and-coming MCs to focus too intently on rhymes. But on T. Lucas’ new EP, The T.E.S.T., the Prince George’s County rapper puts the onus squarely on lyrics. He growls about self-discipline (“He Can Do It”) and escaping stress (“Remember”). He trades bars with Acem of Gods’Illa (“Art-O-fficial Intelligence”) and ‘Folkz (“Lala Land”). All told, it’s a decent outing for Lucas, whose intricate wordplay makes The T.E.S.T. worth your time. —MJM