Arts Desk

DMV Beats: Logic Signs to Def Jam, Head-Roc Releases a New Album

Logic Signs to Def Jam

Logic is having a great year. Last month, XXL magazine included the local MC as part of its "2013 Freshman class," prompting many hip-hop fans outside of the DMV to ask, “Who the &#@$ is Logic?” Now, there's a simple answer: He’s the latest addition to Def Jam. Earlier this week, the rapper officially signed with the storied label and revealed that legendary Chicago producer No I.D. will act as executive producer for his Def Jam debut. No I.D., who's currently the label’s executive vice president of A&R, is best known for being Kanye West's mentor and contributing boardwork to classic albums like Common’s Resurrection. It's exciting to ponder what kind of insight the Grammy Award-winning beatmaker will lend to Logic, or better yet, what Logic might sound like over No I.D.'s production. But one thing's for sure: People won't be clueless about Logic for much longer. —Julian Kimble

Head-Roc's Mouth

It’s easy to misinterpret Head-Roc's message: On the surface, it might look like the veteran D.C. rapper (and occasional Washington City Paper contributor) has a problem with everything, whether he’s criticizing local promoter Tyrone Norris for allegedly predatory business practices, or badmouthing Wale for not mentioning certain local rappers during his recent interview with MTV, or accusing arts curators of ripping off go-go artists.

But Head-Roc isn't just some guy shouting from the sidelines. In the '90s, long before hip-hop was fashionable in D.C., he, Asheru, Black Indian, and Kokayi showed aspiring MCs that they could sustain careers in hip-hop. At that time, D.C. rappers were seen as New York offshoots if they tried anything but go-go. On his new album, Black Rock Star Super Hero Music, Head-Roc sounds as cantankerous as ever, throwing shots at "cracker legislation," gentrification, and Wal-Mart. “You can’t compete with a superstore who's the importer of slave labor,” Heady says on "Keep DC Wal-Mart Free!"

On “Chocolate City Rocks!” the rapper chastises the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for not inducting go-go legend Chuck Brown. “That is NOT Hip Hop” takes aim at current pop-laden rap music. He’s not mad the entire time, though: “I’m Still Number One” and “Mayor 4 Life” pay tribute to his D.C. rap peers and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, respectively. So while Head-Roc has opinions (and he doesn’t mind sharing), Black Rock Star offers a glimpse into what he’s thinking at the moment—good and bad—and he doesn’t mince words. —Marcus J. Moore

The Many Sides of Nooch

The young Nooch has released two more videos since the hook-heavy "Gotta Go" debuted back in February. In March there was the decidedly mellower "Wit A Nigga," followed this week by "China Freestyle," a clip that takes awhile to get rolling. The song itself–a heavy funk number with multisyllabic on-the-beat wordplay–is bookended by a mini-movie that seems to be about a guy in a brown shirt who is kind of a jerk. Nooch gives him the finger. (He apparently has a mixtape, Rookie Season, on the way.) —Joe Warminsky

Family Guy

Chances are, Diamond District rapper yU would be the last to tell you how dope he is. Alongside bandmates Oddisee and X.O., the Suitland, Md., native is the most even-tempered; his low-key cadence usually delves into the daily struggles of paying bills, working a dead-end job, and staying strong for his family. His new song, “Long Way 2 Grow,” treads similar ground. Amid a downtempo blend of acoustic strings and light drum taps, yU gets reflective: “Look into the eyes of my four-year-old child/I’m proud as a lion, she extends my lifeline.” The Humble King returns. —MJM

Lady's Choice

In the One Track Mind piece we ran this week about Farma Wesley's "Feng Shui," there wasn't room for information about his mysterious sidekick in the video. It's Gelisa, the Woodbridge rapper's friend. She's now a New York-based stylist. The only thing she helped him with in the video was that buck wild paisley-themed track jacket. "All the other stuff I put together myself," Wesley says. "I have so many clothes, she was like, 'What, you don't even need me? Then I'm gonna be in the video!' " —JW

Relive “Tonight” with Beyond Modern

Ever woken up from a drunken night of awesomeness and kept drinking, you know, just because liquor was there? No? Then you're doing it wrong. The theme for duo Beyond Modern's new video "Tonight"—a track we gave the One Track Mind treatment in November—is the perfect Saturday: wake up, commence partying. The chorus ("When the sun sets, and the night falls/Will you regret the days lost?") echoes a "carpe diem" mentality that has yet to be tainted by age. Party, drink, pass out, repeat. —JK

Rahiem Supreme’s Conspiracy Theories

About a month ago, we checked out Rahiem Supreme and producer Crank's collaborative EP. Swag Genie and wound up most impressed by the closing track, "Eyes Wide Shut." Now, with a new video heavy on conspiracy theories and heavy imagery (Ku Klux Klan, 9/11, Muammar Gaddafi), Supreme aims to open everyone's eyes to the government's alleged nefarious scheming. Bookended by clips of John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s famous 1961 speech about secret societies, the video puts Rahiem in the role of John Connor from the Terminator franchise—the leader of the resistance. Could this be Rahiem Supreme's call to arms? —JK

Charting DMV Hip-Hop

Here's some more DMV love from XXL: DC Chillin': DMV Artists You Need to Know. It's hardly the first list of its kind for a national publication; our own Marcus J. Moore did one for MTV Hive, and our own Julian Kimble did one for Complex. (XXL includes Baltimore in its sweep; we here at DMV Beats go that way sometimes, too.) Without gettin' all scientific–and without stretching the bounds of our Web-programming skillz–here's a comparison of those three lists, and two more from DJs in the know: Pat Is Dope and DJ Boss Player. Links to each piece are at the top of the columns.

XXL (2013) Complex (2012) MTV Hive (2012) Pat Is Dope (2012)
DJ Boss Player (2013)
Fat Trel Black Cobain Lyriciss Light Show Muggsy Malone
Kingpen Slim Chris Barz Kingpen Slim Hoil Rocket Uptown XO
Shy Glizzy Fat Trel RAtheMC Black Cobain Chaz French
Black Cobain Logic Uptown X.O. Shy Glizzy Fat Trel
LoLa Monroe Lyriciss Phil Adé Da Phuture Lyriciss
Bullet Brak Phil Adé Urban Cartel Gods’Illa
Chris Barz Pro'Verb David Correy Logic
Caddy Da Don RAtheMC Phil Ade Wale
Uptown XO Shy Glizzy Fat Trel DTMD
Harmony Muzik Young Moe Logic Phil Ade
Lyriciss
Hunit Stackz
Phil Ade
RA the MC
Backland

Logic photo by Ryan Jay

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  • The Java Master

    No talent hacks, the whole lot of 'em. Save yer money, kids, the next new thing will be along any second now....

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