“Is an introduction really necessary for someone we all know?”, a male voice asks at the top of Beef and Broccoli, the collaborative new album from Silver Spring rapper Awthentik and Violet Says 5 frontman Ethan Spalding.
In this case? Probably. While Awthentik and Spalding carry weight within the city’s tight-knit open-mic circle, their names aren’t immediately recognizable, even if they make kick-ass music. For Awthentik, last year’s Foreclosure solidified him as a formidable solo presence in D.C. Violet Says 5 flirts occasionally with hip-hop, but its aesthetic teems with straightforward rock, funk, and blues. The two styles couldn’t be more different: Awthentik sounds serious, especially when he’s chastising commercial rappers; Spalding can turn a phrase, but he’s much more chill.
Beef and Broccoli combines Southern crunk with East Coast boom-bap over a surly blend of bicoastal compositions. Some of these songs are downright grungy (“Trillmatic,” “Aww Man”), while others reach for nostalgic West Coast haze (“Pockets wit’ No Lint,” “So Clean,” “Let It Go”). It works. The two rappers deliver standout solo verses while harmoniously merging their styles. Awthentik and Spalding aren’t yet household names, but this album could change that.