Over the last three months,I spent a lot of time around Fat Trel and his entourage. I felt like the accountant in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.

If there’s one thing I can’t stress enough, it’s how intelligent Fat Trel is. He’s consumes culture like a philosopher, and immediately takes a sharp stand on it. He’s like that hipster friend who always chimes in with an unsolicited opinion.

They have smartphones and wi-fi in the ‘hood now, so gangster rap as we knew it is dead: The most authentic and dangerous zones are no longer self-contained ecosystems, like the Tibet of pre-Communist China. The unfiltered stream of media Trel consumes makes for incredibly compelling stuff, and I think his upcoming Nightmare On E Street could be a watershed moment for area hip-hop. Assuming he gets the tracklisting right—-when we spoke, dude had 50 or so songs to choose from.

You can check my story on Fat Trel in this week’s Washington City Paper, or read it here. For the uninitiated, I assembled a Fat Trel primer:

Photo by Darrow Montgomery