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Landover native Xanman kicked off the year with a new project; the appropriately titled Rap Like The Rent Due was released Jan. 27. The 21-year-old artist has been consistently releasing music since 2016, but received a tidal wave of local and national support in 2019, partly due to his hit single “Gucci Down,” featuring local rappers Rico Nasty and YungManny. But Xanman solidified his fanbase long ago with his infinite supply of off-the-wall punchlines, and unique interpretation of the “DMV flow”—where engineers arrange a rapper’s vocal tracks to start before the previous one ends, creating a distinct pattern that falls on and off the beat.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Xanman released over 25 projects, tallying up hundreds of songs and features across various digital streaming platforms. In the last two years, however, the singer significantly slowed his output. Rap Like The Rent Due is only his third release since 2020.
The 12-track project finds Xanman more polished in both his singing and rapping than ever before. “Blind,” the first song on the album, begins with Xanman explaining “I made this song while I had a headache/ reason why I’m talkin’ quiet.” He then proceeds to calmly spazz over a simple two-bar, 808 pattern provided by L.A.-based producer Deedot Will. Xanman catatonically flies through a long list of punchlines on the track that includes references to TED Talks, the most recent Jake Paul match against Tyron Woodley, World War II, and the classic anime One Piece. Although his references span several iterations of pop culture, Xanman’s steady delivery in “Blind” blends diverse topics into one cohesive piece.
The song’s scattered lyrical content perfectly embodies the rest of the whole album: It seems to have a bit of everything. Half of the twelve tracks are full-on ballads. “Build” and “Choppa On Me” have Xanman crooning over smooth guitar samples, experimenting with different cadences, and using autotune for his ad-libs. Yet, he maintains his notable wordplay, sporadically describing brief scenes of drug abuse, severed friendships, gun violence, and the emotional impact of it all.
Xanman uses the other six tracks on the album to display his creative lyricism. “Hit With the Uhh” has him violently rapping over speaker-shaking 808s, unloading a never-ending stream of punchlines ranging from pop culture references (“No Toronto, we got Drake in the trenches”) to anime character shoutouts (“Lambo Urus, I’m punching like Rock Lee”). While on “Loaded” he’s rapping over a slight piano run and a well placed viola sample. He maintains a concentrated intensity, and finds a way to mention The Matrix, Casamigos tequila, Doja Cat, and the Grand Theft Auto video game series in the song’s only verse.
Rap Like The Rent Due is full of variety. The continuous exchange between the two different moods of Xanman’s melodious singing and his aggressive rapping may initially make the project feel like it’s all over the place. But, a thorough listen from start to finish shows that Xanman’s versatility is one of his greatest strengths.