DMV Beats: Fleetwood DeVille, Nike Nando, Laelo
In late 2012, rapper Fleetwood DeVille dropped his single "Searchlight,” which riffed on Metro's Red Line delays and the Bohemian Caverns sound system. It served as a pretty strong introduction to the Oklahoma native, though the song has since disappeared from the Internet.
Out this week, DeVille's While I Was Asleep EP collects four songs he recorded between 2009 and 2011. It's powered by the grumpy "9 to 5," on which DeVille groans in the general direction of his day job. He raps: "My face is buried in the pillow at the pad/My alarm went off, and the epiphany I had/Was fuck this job, I'm up way too early/They ain't payin' me enough to be in there at 5:30."
On "Liberated," DeVille keeps it subtle, his accent riding a low guitar riff and steady drum pace. He's self-effacing as he contemplates his own shortcomings and assesses his progress. Asleep manages to demonstrate DeVille's impressive rhyme cadence, even if the EP's a bit too short. —Marcus J. Moore
A Largo Tale
“Largo,” which Nike Nando released last week, is much deeper than a shout-out to the region in Prince George’s County. Flexing his storytelling skills over Johnny Juliano’s production, he focuses on two people with no connection or similarities to each other other than wanting to escape their current situations. The first is a 17-year-old boy with college aspirations who is forced into adulthood by his neglectful mother, who leaves him to watch over his six younger siblings. The second verse is about a young mother waiting in the heat for her philandering, ne’er-do-well boyfriend to pick up her and their child. By the time he finally arrives, she’s had ample time to reflect on her dissatisfaction with the relationship: “Thirty minutes later she still waitin’, he arrive/No words for this nigga, don’t wanna hear his lies.”
Though not as dark, “Largo” exists in the same universe as Wale’s “Ice and Rain”. But where Wale’s tale was gloomy, Nike Nando’s is inspirational. The two main characters are seeking better lives. As synths ride out over a booming kick and cracking snare during the song’s final 90 seconds, you may find yourself hoping they get what they’re looking for. —Julian Kimble
Laelo the Lifer
Laelo likes to call himself a lifer. That's probably the reason he kept rapping even after he vowed to retire. On his new album, Lifers Never Die, the rapper sounds re-energized and battle-ready. He takes indirect shots at skinny-jeans rappers ("Niggas Ain't Grindin'") and applauds his own grind ("I'm A Hustler, Baby"). And of course, what would a Laelo album be without homage to that green ("Simple and Plain," "That Good Shit," "Caffeine & Marijuana")?
But it's his salute to D.C. that steals the show: On "This Is My Home," featuring Uptown XO and Black Boo (of Mambo Sauce), they shout out the nation's capital with well-timed metaphors. Black Boo offers a crash course in D.C. slang: "bamma," "kill Moe," "slight work," etc. Then there's Laelo: "Your town might be the shit, but my city is No. 1." There, it’s settled. —MJM