DMV Music Update by Maxwell Young

OG Lullabies, Chris Allen, The Khan, Dreamcast, Nappy Nappa & Pat Cain, and Winzday Love

 New Def Jam Records signee, Beau Young Prince photographed by  @iamjakewashere .

New Def Jam Records signee, Beau Young Prince photographed by @iamjakewashere.

The last several weeks have been loaded with major releases and announcements within the DMV music community.  Odd Mojo's remix collaboration with MILK$ featured on the Sounds of D.C. vol. II playlist and the surprise drop of Tony Kill and Sir E.U's joint project African American Psycho feel like timely additions to the sonic landscapes.  Moreover, budding stars Rico Nasty and Beau Young Prince celebrated record label signings with Atlantic and Def Jam, respectively.  Let's recap some of the other music that's been released by DMV artists recently.

OG Lullabies - Raw Channels Vol. I

A virtuoso--adept in violin, guitar, piano, and other instruments I am no doubt missing--OG Lullabies has given listeners a streamlined version of her sound with a short EP, Raw Channels Vol. I.  It's a soothing contrast from her cosmic sounding project Cruescontrol, which she debuted earlier this year.  Focusing on her unique vocals and acoustics, the entire EP runs under six minutes.  Be sure to give her rendition of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" a listen, available on all streaming platforms.

Chris Allen - "60 Seconds"

Maybe you've heard songwriter Chris Allen perform his Ashes EP in Pittsburgh, but his roots are in Washington, D.C.  His latest track, "60 Seconds" leverages a Jay Rock sample as his theme of spirituality delivers an uplifting message, "You will not fall to the wayside."  InTheRough will have more from Allen soon.

The Khan - Free Jesse: The Mixtape

Still embarked on the Resurrection Tour with Sick Boy Rari (AKA Black Kray) and Wifigawd, The Khan has released his follow up mixtape to Khanner.  Both tour mates are on the project converting their hectic shows into a pocket-sized rage mosh-able anywhere. Should you need proof, check out Khan's wild night at Uptown Art House.

Dreamcast - "Throat"

Dreamcast teased the visuals to his latest song, "Throat" way back in January.  Shot in a cabin deep in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Dreamcast is seen bedridden, emotionally paralyzed following the collapse of a relationship.  Read more about the Kevin Chamber directed video in the soulful singer's second media hit by The Fader.  Stay tuned for Dreamcast's long awaited EP, which is set to be completed by end of summer.

Nappy Nappa & Pat Cain - Model Home

 Pat Cain at Uptown Art House photographed by Maxwell Young.

Pat Cain at Uptown Art House photographed by Maxwell Young.

Nappy Nappa follows up his latest individual project, +HEARTMATH+ REQUIEM UV UNIVERSAL REQUEST--a 35-minute mix on SoundCloud that nods to the modern wave of hip hop--with experimental textures in Model Home.  The eleven-track tape is a joint effort with experimentalist/audio engineer/saxophonist/tinkerer, Pat Cain. This pairing becomes even deadlier and less predictable when they become Delta 7, a quartet including Sir E.U and Tony Kill. A project looms at large according to fellow member of Lads, Auto Dickerson.

Winzday Love - "DRAGONS"

Winzday Love is full of cosmic energy, and according to her latest single, "DRAGONS" she's walked this earth before.  Love sings, "Yes, yes. We are 1000 years old," as she dances in front of meditating band members Kwesi Lee, Alireza, and Airospvce.  We'll wait and see if a full project is on the horizon since this is her first official video/single release.



Art House Rage Featuring The Khan, Wifigawd, Nappy Nappa, and More by Maxwell Young

Last Saturday, the D.C. hip hop community converged at Uptown Art House for the 21st birthday celebration of The Khan, a free-flowing, curly-haired flexer of the new age rap scene.  Alignment with Virginia Beach native, Lil' Tracy (listen to their collaborative effort, "Vices" on Sounds of D.C. vol. II) and a fast friendship with the late Lil' Peep has increased Khan's exposure over the last year.  He was joined by fellow DMV natives exploring modern trap drums, ad-libs, and vocal modifications including Wifigawd, SickBoyRari, Trip Dixon, and Nappy Nappa.

Part studio, part skatepark, part scene--the Art House turned into a full-blown concert hall with the youth showing up in droves.  While many were in attendance to see Lil' Tracy--a couple fans even traveled from Philadelphia--it was heartening to see the rage-ful embrace of local music.  Every set was complete with shoving and shouting, demonstrating the true following these artists have on SoundCloud.  The moshing was so heavy during Wifigawd's performance that the scuffle unplugged the audio circuitry causing abrupt "oohs" and "aaws" from the crowd.

There's no denying that the current sound dominating hip hop encourages a certain aesthetic.  A$AP Mob and the AWGE clique are an appropriate microcosm of this lifestyle wearing cross-body fanny packs with carefully packed Backwoods, untied Vans and washed, vintage rock-n-roll t-shirts that amplify this grungy streetwear-chic aspect of rap.  Khan himself drenched his Heron Preston long sleeve in sweat.  Those who weren't in the mosh pits emanated this cool demeanor as they stood on top of the half-pipe amongst their crew wearing personalized graphic hoodies or dangling their legs over the bright yellow scaffold throwing up squad affiliations.  And perhaps the Art House completes this hedonistic vibe.  Much like when Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Andy's Superstar personalities like Edie Sedgwick and Ultra Violet popped into the Warhol Factory to be photographed or simply experience the commotion surrounding the famed space, the youth of today want to be seen, want to be in-the-know, and want to be free to experiment.

Enjoy the video above.  Don't want to miss the next rage.

Best New Tracks by Alex Young

Benji, Tairey, Hardo, Knuccleheadz, Kizzl, Bill$up, Zende & Linwood

Let's roundup the quality music that's released from some Pittsburgh artists recently.

Benji - Smile, You're Alive!

 Benji's "Smile, You're Alive!" cover art by Yung Mulatto

Benji's "Smile, You're Alive!" cover art by Yung Mulatto

The godsend talent through musicianship has given us a meaningful album. Benji's listeners take away hope after they've spent time with the "Smile, You're Alive!" album. He takes risks by sharing personal, vulnerable stories that drive his confidence in himself. Feel your jaw drop when you listen to "Zola Rose," but then get in your bag when the bass line drops in the second half of the song. Additionally, appreciate the artistry throughout the project thanks to the live instrumentations like strong keys and even the cover art by the legendary Yung Mulatto.

Tairey featuring Hardo - Nothing New

This music video is everything. The coolness of it goes hard. The bop meets the trap, and Tairey and Hardo are the perfect characters. Tairey opened up for the Migos in Cleveland last May, and Hardo gears up for his new album "The Fame or Feds Story," which has a complementary "trapumentary" about growing up in the hardened Wilkinsburg neighborhood outside of the 'Burgh. Both rappers have been tested in Pittsburgh and nationally, so the duo present a refined product. "Nothing New" is that excitement you want from a fun song like this. Watch the video first and then cop the track on iTunes.


 Kellz & Heem of the Knuccleheadz at the Strip District Music Fest [2016] | photo by Alex Young

Kellz & Heem of the Knuccleheadz at the Strip District Music Fest [2016] | photo by Alex Young

Two youngins ran into each other at a gas station. One was a local rapper, and the other was a local writer. As he pumped air into his tires, the rapper Jiggy of the KNUCCLEHEADZ handed an early copy of his group's "Endless" album to the writer who was pumping gas. The exchange would be atypical in a city like Atlanta where people who ask you to check out their mixtape is another way of saying hello. In Pittsburgh, that interaction is not so common. The KNUCCLEHEADZ's "Endless" album improves their hip-hop image. Heem, Jiggy, Kellz and Shady Higgler created a soundtrack for self-indulgent lifestyles. A variety of sounds are on display in the album. "No feelings" is fun, trendy and lit. The following song "Yeah You" flexes the group's classic retro gangsta rap flow that they are known for, and "X2c" changes the mood completely to a chill reggae mood. Also, production from Taylor Gang's Sledgren moves the project along. Support "Endless" on iTunes or Spotify.

Trapway Kizzl x Bill$up - Nightmares of a Chevy

Come from the trap, and you're a different breed. You can tell stories in ways others cannot begin to understand, and that's what makes trap music so interesting. The gritty risk-reward lifestyle seems anxious and glamorous at the same time. "Young nigga tryna see the top ceiling. Packs for my woes. Bags for my hoes. Pistols for my foes. You know how it goes," Kizzl raps over a crisp Bill$up production.

Zende featuring Linwood - Girlfriend (prod. YourFavoriteProducer)

"Girlfriend" explains the contemplation a man goes through before he asks a girl to be his girlfriend. Rapper Zende enjoys the pleasures of a woman even after she "met my momma, brother, sister," but she "still ain't my girlfriend," he says. Linwood, a rapper originally from Worcester, Mass. who makes his home and music career in Pittsburgh, gives Zende some motivation in his verse saying, "take it there." Linwood, along with Tairey, will open up for the Sheck Wes show at Diesel Club Lounge on the South Side come July 1. Listen to "Girlfriend" and maybe provide some advice for the young artist Zende.

Sounds of D.C. vol. II by Maxwell Young

"We developed a market that wasn't there.  In that, we're all torchbearers." - Sir. E.U

Sounds of D.C. Volume 2 encompasses a larger picture of the music and artists who make Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia a dynamic sonic environment.  Here, we celebrate familiar faces pushing the boundary of the local environment and those who have been fortunate enough to travel with their work and, perhaps, have let it evolve from new world experiences.

A lot has happened in the DMV since the first Sounds of D.C. playlist dropped last June.  The District's newest Starboy, GoldLink was nominated for a Grammy, Nappy Nappa and the Lads appeared on Adult Swim, and more local faces have started to garner mainstream attention with Dreamcast and Tony Kill both receiving features from The Fader.  Let's not forget about April + Vista either, the burgeoning neo soul duo, who after an almost two-year hiatus from releasing new music, have given fans two new tracks, "How To Get By" and "Own2," that have been spun on BBC Radio 1 via Julie Adenuga's weekly Apple Music show as well as receiving a highlight as Ebro Darden's Discovered pick on Beats 1.  This, of course, follows their performances on tour with GoldLink and Masego.

From this attention, 2018 feels more promising--like casual and national listeners alike are beginning to catch wind of the talent in the community.  And while local supporters have followed artists all over the DIY circuit (e.g., Rhizome, Studio Ga Ga, Paperhaus, and Uptown Art House just to name a few) and embraced tracks on free streaming services like SoundCloud, it seems as though more musicians are converting their audience to commoditized listening platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, and even compact discs, which have come back en vogue.  Odd Mojo kicked off the year with a stunning album, Channel Yo Mojo, that crystallized her affinity for nineties era hip hop, the internet drug lord, St. Clair Castro, FootsxColes, and multi-instrumentalist/singer OG Lullabies have all utilized popular streaming services as outlets for their sonics--and rightfully so.  Outside of the $5 to $10 ticket and suggested donation shows, supporters should engage with local music just like they do the Drakes and Rihannas of the industry.  It only sustains the DIY music ecosystem, but it also encourages more output.  With that being said, thank you, artists, for still seeing the value of offering your work for free.  Enjoy Volume 2 above, and if you like the artists you hear, try searching them on your go-to streaming platform.



On To You (Playlist) by Alex Young

on to you playlist.png

The best part about the Instagram story function is when users post the track info to songs they're listening to at the moment. See what different communities listen to. "On To You" tracks down some good music coming out of Pittsburgh and mixes it with popular sounds from around the country. This playlist has a nice balance of trendy and local from the new Playboi Carti record to Jimmy Wopo's new banger. Browse the selection and research the music.