Arts Desk

DMV Beats: SmCity, Nike Nando, Redhead, Javier Starks, and BYT’s Emerging Artists Sampler

Touring SmCity

On his last album, The Indie Life: Hate, Love & Money, SmCity was all business. For its 12 songs, the rapper kept things aboveboard with guests SkyzooOddisee, and Uptown X.O., among others. His new album, Dream Cemetery, is far more personal. Here, he unfurls stories about his challenges, personally and professionally, and touches on the balance between relationships and the grind—a common motif for the hardworking MC. —Marcus J. Moore

More on the Grind/Life Balance

As we draw closer to the release of Nike Nando's latest, SprdLv, new music continues to trickle out. The latest is the DeuceTheMusic produced "Rap Shxt," which finds the MC riding a beat that sounds yanked from a blaxploitation film's opening credits. The boardwork here is splendid, but Nike Nando's lyrics bring the track to life as he analyzes the trials and tribulations of the aspiring artist. The chorus amplifies the struggle ("Rap shit, and real life/I can't go to sleep at night"), portraying it as a frustrating balancing act. "I'm high as fuck at my second job/Lookin' forward to my check tomorrow/My girl throwin' me attitude, she think I'm fuckin' with other broads/I'm not though and that's real shit/If you do rap, then they will trip/I'm too smacked for this bullshit/She just blew my high..." This apparently didn't make the final cut of the mixtape, so if songs this good are throwaways, imagine what the final product will sound like. Come Monday, we'll find out. —Julian Kimble

Bow Down to Readhead

Beyoncé dropped her latest heat check, "Bow Down," earlier this week, and Capitol Heights-bred MC Redhead wasted no time putting the instrumental to work. In a three-minute freestyle, he raps double time over the Hit-Boy beat, giving the stiff arm to lesser rappers: “Goin’ hard, I got no choice/Got the crown, you must anoint/That’s your chick? I got her moist/And all I did was drop my voice." —JK

Javier’s War Cry

As we've pointed out, Javier Starks is normally a mild-mannered guy who keeps his head down to focus on his music. But he’s also ambitious: Ultimately, the House Studios MC wants to go national. So maybe that’s why sounds unhinged on "War Cry," the first single from his forthcoming album, Radio Ready. Atop a triumphant instrumental, Starks goes off on slavery, mainstream rappers, and urban struggles. We don’t know who pissed off Jav, but it works for him. —MJM

Show Some Love

Powered by their 25 DMV Artists to Watch Out For in 2013, Brightest Young Things, in cooperation with The Hamilton, will present the first installment of their Emerging Artists Super Sampler on April 6. The showcase is packed with local hip-hop acts, including Beyond ModernIncwellRAtheMCKid Named BreezyTrackLocke Kaushal and Uno Hype. That's a lot of music for just $20. Grab tickets here, and feel good for supporting local hip-hop. —JK

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