The Baltimore Ravens have some issues. They were the Cleveland Browns until 1996, so the Midwest grapples with their very existence. Catch them live, and you’ll see a franchise that revels in its bad-guy persona: only the bruising defensive players get player intros; you’ll hear three straight Rick Ross tracks and then Metallica during pregame warm ups; and in one in-game montage, star linebacker Terrell Suggs shoots lasers out of his eyes.
I caught the Ravens twice this season—-both times as a visiting fan—-and fell in love. One of the NFL’s least influential teams has a football sanctuary. Their fans cheer, seemingly unfettered by the hateful bile of other teams’ fans (see: Eagles, Pigskins). Games take place in the team’s actual city, and not a low-rent parking lot 20 miles away. These Ravens serve as a metaphor for Baltimore’s plight: take John Harbaugh’s everyman coaching; Ray Rice, the all-purpose repairman who can keep the chains moving with duct tape; its aged, ironmen defensive stalwarts and how they reportedly aren’t afraid to cut corners to keep food on the table. DMV Beats’ highly scientific algorithm predicts a 27-19 Ravens victory this weekend in Super Bowl XLVII.
Mullyman will be cheering hard. This week, the Baltimore rapper released “Purple Reign,” a Prince-sampling anthem for his hometown team. The song is structurally similar to Lil Wayne’s “A Milli”——the sample is two words looped ad infinitum, and they’re laid out over drummer-boy snares. There are no hooks, just cute football puns and hashtag rap punchlines: “I got bills like Buffalo”; “Speaking of quarterbacks #Shotgun”; “First hater to cross me? He’ll be first first down”; “Imma ride West #Cowboys”; “Even in your city I got homefield advantage.” —-Ramon Ramirez
Ace and the Artists
There aren’t any stunning economic insights on Ace the Artist’s new single “La La La,” the beat by producer J. Rob is too shrieky-techno for my taste, and the presence of D ‘General on the chorus is a comme ci comme ça kind of thing. But the song has a real hook, and when it comes to getting money, hooks matter. When Ace says “la la la,” the delivery has a universal brand of attitude, the kind that sells in Senegal or Hong Kong or wherever rap tracks are part of the pop life. —-Joe Warminsky
Open Call for Beatmakers
Last week, DMV Beats reported that experimental rap rebels The Cornel West Theory have a new mixtape, Coming From The Bottom, slated for March 4. This week, the band released a clip for “The Art of Hunger,” a standout song from 2011’s Shape of Hip-Hop to Come. Directed by drummer Sam Lavine, the video is a performance-based reel that highlights three of the band’s four vocalists as the three perform like coffee-shop poets. The song, full of paranoid, free-association raps about exhaling through the ozone, is worth revisiting. –RR
Wale’s Instagram guide to winter sports. [MTV Hive]
Marcus J. Moore on the new Uptown X.O. release. [Arts Desk]