DMV Beats: Black Indian’s Indian Summer, Shy Glizzy’s Law 2, Yung Gleesh, Lightshow, and Nike Nando
If Black Indian's 2011 comeback I Tried To Tell You was all about re-establishing the D.C. rapper's relevance, then his new mixtape, Indian Summer, is the sound of a veteran MC progressing on his own terms. Two local producers—Don "Dunn It" Cox and Choppy Chop Beatz (Damyon Richardson, aka Choppy Chop-e Sound)—dominate the credits, and they give him beats with the kind of jazzy grit that not only accentuates his late-Golden Era rhyme style, but also dovetails with the '90s revivalism happening among certain hip-hop kids.
The former major-label rapper seems less concerned with selling or rehashing his own legacy, and more intent on offering perspectives on ghetto economics ("Deep In Sin," "I'm OK," "Grown Man"), flexing his battle-rap muscles ("Will Get Schooled," "DC Is Mines," "O.G."), boasting about the joys of mature relationships ("All I Really Want") and reminding listeners about the challenges faced by rank-and-file military personnel ("Bring Them Home"). If there's a thread that runs throughout Indian Summer, it's Black Indian's sure-handedness—he's got nothing to hide, no weird feelings to sort out. (If there's one glaring inconsistency, it's the volume levels of the songs. But hey, it's a mixtape.)
The most memorable track might be "DC," a midtempo celebration of all things DMV, with an optimistic beat by Choppy Chop and a summery, "I'm from Deee Ceeeee" hook sung by vocalist Nicki Nicole Jackson. Black Indian toasts various heroes and locales, but it's not all boosterism. When he gets to Capitol Hill, he throws shade: "Shoutout to the Congress and Senate, too/Where bills get passed and people get screwed." —Joe Warminsky
Download Indian Summer here.
Shy Glizzy began the month by dropping Law 2 on Thursday, the highly anticipated followup to his Law mixtape.
The rapper has never been shy about his street dealings, but it's an aspect of his life he’d like to escape now that he's working his way up the local hip-hop scene’s ladder. That's clear from the track "1 Foot In 1 Foot Out": "They say you almost there, they want me stop trappin'/If the plug front me some bricks then I might stop rappin," Glizzy rhymes. Though he borderline harmonizes on "Free the Gang," it’s remorseful, too, as the rapper reflects on lost friends while praying he doesn’t meet the same fate.
"Gudda," which features rising Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates, should have the Trillectro crowd in a frenzy on Aug. 17; it’s raw and unapologetic, much like the rapper himself—an MC who claims he’s been “going hard since Pokemon cards.”
Law 2 confirms what we already know about Shy Glizzy: He’s good for a hook and is skilled at making trunk-rattlers. He knows his lane and is extremely comfortable in it, but too many of the project’s 14 tracks sound similar. The cautionary “Guns & Roses,” which just begs for a feature from The Weeknd, would be a fine bookend to the tape—and I don’t just say that because he shouts out the City Paper. When Glizzy is on point and playing to his strengths, he rings out. See a full review of Law 2 in this week's arts section. —Julian Kimble
Yung Gleesh, a rare "goon/comedian/rapper hybrid," kicked off last week by dropping a video for "2 Thangs." It's a good choice, because this clip basically sets the tone for his Ain't Shit Changed album. The heavily autotuned song, which is precisely what a promethazine-induced dream would sound like, also features Wicced—and the video mostly consists of Gleesh on a balcony sipping lean and eating Chinese food. Judging by the way he handles the chopsticks, he looks like a carry-out veteran. Credit Gleesh and director Will Hoopes for being able to take simple things and milk them for humor. After you’re done with this, give the rest of Ain't Shit Changed a listen.—JK
Since Lightshow appeared on Wale’s Folarin mixtape at the end of 2012, he’s been on an upswing. Just last week, Complex (disclosure: I’m a contributor to the magazine) named him one of the 25 rappers to watch out for.
Lightshow's "Went to Sleep" follows a pretty typical money/women/clothes formula—the chorus goes "I went to sleep to some pussy/Woke up to some head." Nope, it's not the best display of his talent (check Wale's "Georgetown Press" for that), but it's got the 808s and the catchy/vulgar chorus that seem inescapable in mainstream hip-hop right now. —JK
Nike Nando, Lyriciss, and Rickie Jacobs
Almost every week, hardworking Maryland MC Nike Nando unleashes a new track from his musical arsenal. Now he's recruited Rickie Jacobs and Lyriciss to help him assault the spacey beat on "You Know How It Goes." All three rappers take their time abusing production that sounds like a '90s hip-hop take on Star Wars, and Lyriciss snaps the hardest on the final verse, boasting about "blocking industry politics like obese lineman" and rapping for a good 10 seconds after the beat stops. Fans of the impromptu cypher take note: This is a lyrical sprint.—JK