DMV Beats: Cane, Youngin, Oddisee, Drew Dave, and Phil Adé
While some rappers are flaunting cash and jewelry, many of their listeners are working dead-end jobs. They’re suffering through broken relationships, not throwing money at strippers; they’re paying bills, not collecting debts. Chances are, Cane had those listeners in mind when he made his new mixtape, Lucid Dreams, a 15-track collection of common-man rhymes that tackle everyday issues. "Walk of Shame" takes a jab at tennis-shoe fandom: "You ain't even seen the sneaker yet, yet you need this ... You don't care what type of kick it is/You just care 'cause it's limited."
"Didn't I" and "Selfish" show two sides of the breakup spectrum. On the former, Cane is dismissive. On the latter, he's contrite: "All she ever do is care, then I turn around and take it out on her, how fair is that?" That's why this tape thrives. In a game full of swag, Cane isn't afraid to be human. —Marcus J. Moore
A Somewhat Old-School Youngin
D.C. native Youngin has one of those flows that goes and goes, so it makes sense that he'll drop a Nas or Rakim reference at times on Tha Rewind, his latest album. Words pile up, but he always sounds like he's got some left in the tank, because his throttle is well-tuned. The rapper/producer says the project is inspired by '90s/early 2000s hip-hop, and when he's on, he does the era justice. (Four or five of the project's 20 tracks probably could've been left in the lab.) Good places to start are the heavily boom-bapped "Can I Flow," the Marley-Marl-meets-RZA "And Tha Story Goes ...," the weirdly funky "Greatness," and the DMX-flecked "Tha Capture." He's usually boasting or telling stories as a third-person narrator, and he's not afraid to push his bars to the limit: "Hell is hot but Earth is worse/We signed that application at birth/To suffer through it 'cause we want all the perks/The pussy, power and money/To get the clothes, the jewels and all the shoes/To appear fresh when we slide through" (from "Times Have Changed"). —Joe Warminsky
If you follow Oddisee on Instagram (really, you should), then you know he's been on a serious European jaunt over the past month or so. The visuals are nice, but it's better to hear some noise: To wit, the Red Bull Music Academy's radio site has posted a live recording by Oddy at Spain's highly regarded Sónar festival in June. The sound mix isn't perfect, but he's got a full band, and you can tell he was glad to be there. Stick around for the mashup of Gangstarr's "Mass Appeal" and Diamond District's "I Mean Business." —JW
Producer Drew Dave has kept it low-key this year. Much like Oddisee, the man formerly known as Soulful! likes to use obscure soul samples in his head-nodding productions. His excellent 2011 album, Mumbo Sauce and Drumbreaks, was full of brassy instrumentals that evoked 1970s Blaxploitation movies. Dave recently posted three new beats on his Soundcloud page—"Everyday!", "OohHaaa!", "KahLyeDaScope"—which provide quick glimpses into his new work, but they're not slated for any project right now. "They might get utilized one day," Dave says in an email, "but as of now they're just there." Dave and Doe Cigapom are slated to drop a collaborative LP, Life As We Know It, later this year. —MJM
Phil Adé’s Xscape
Phi Adé has probably had worse weeks: The rapper contributed a freestyle to 106th & Park's Backroom session, which should earn him some national attention. But he also took the time to drop some new music for his voracious fans. Produced by Ashton Gold, “Xscape” is a remake of a remake—it samples Xscape's classic cover of The Jones Girls' "Who Can I Run To?", and Adé gracefully dances over the original's modest guitar strings, faint piano keys, and tiptoeing bass, issuing a plea to the girl who stands out from the pack: "Too good to not share you, but I want you to myself/So climb up on my pedestal, and my hoes watch on the shelf." Yet this is a romance that still has flaws: "I'd be a fool not to hold on, but hold on/You know I got my doubts and you got shit that you ain't sold on."
This will definitely resonate with fans of '90s R&B. In the meantime, the wait for his next release, R.O.S.E, continues. —Julian Kimble