Arts Desk

DMV Beats: Oddisee, Maimouna Youssef, Black Cobain, Al Bundy, and Asheru


Oddisee doesn't do many videos. He dropped one recently for "After Thoughts," but he doesn't actually appear in it. So the rapper/producer's new video for "Own Appeal" was kind of a surprise. It offers a glimpse into Odd's work routine: "The outside environment really plays a huge part in what I make," he says at the top of the video. "I write all my rhymes outside." From there, Oddisee walks through a city, and rides around snapping pictures, probably for his Instagram feed. "Own Appeal" can be heard on Oddisee's impressive Tangible Dream mixtape. Watch the video below. —Marcus J. Moore

Maimouna Youssef

You might know Maimouna Youssef as a singer, and that's cool: She's an immensely talented vocalist. But don't forget that Youssef is also a supreme lyricist; she could easily crank out an all-hip-hop album if she wanted. On "Tell My Story," she uses Drake's "Pound Cake" instrumental to detail street code ("My mama told me 'Never lie, except to the police, especially if they askin' 'bout where ya daddy be'"). She throws shade at sensitive dudes while coming to grips with her own complex upbringing. And she's got words for her peers: "Don't fuck wit mine, wanna be the best? Bitch, get in line." It's the rawest I've heard Youssef rhyme in a long time. —MJM

"Turn Up"

A couple of months ago, when Fat Trel dropped this version of the video for "No Lames," some of the chatter focused on possible dogfighting in the intro section. But still more questions arose about the first 50 seconds of music, an unspecified track with a vaguely Cypress Hill vibe and some rapid-fire rhymes.

The fact that it wasn't actually on Trel's sturdy SDMG mixtape was confusing (later it was labeled in the wild as an "unreleased" cut by Trel). But everything is clear now: The song is called "Turn Up," a Black Cobain track featuring Trel, and it's a generally vicious assessment of a certain kind of clubgoer ("Bitch you need to go an' pick your son up"), and it'll be on Cobain's Perfect Contradiction tape, which is allegedly out Nov. 3. "Turn Up" also appears during the intro to Cobain's new video, "The Prelude," in which he does a lot of Metroin' and trenchcoatin' around Alexandria. —Joe Warminsky

Al Bundy

Judging from his storied namesake and skin-crawling Odd Future-esque video debut, Al Bundy—who takes his name from Married With Children's anti-heroic shoe salesman—certainly knows how to get attention. "Kool and the Gang" is the lead single from the Maryland rapper's new mixtape, The Pimp's Nephew. The title says it all: Bundy's warped cadence and crass demeanor borrow generously, if not exclusively from the late, great Pimp C. Not that he doesn't turn in an enjoyable impersonation.

Produced by Ceezy, last heard on A Plus' stripper-friendly “Dance For Me,” the record is eerily hypnotic. The spooky instrumentation could almost pass for a chopped, screwed, and 808-laden reworking of The Twilight Zone's iconic theme music. Frequent collaborator Half Baked Swayze steals the show here, inviting his audience to embark on a trip "inside the mind of an innovator anointed with patience." —Harold Stallworth


A little history on Asheru for the youngins in the room: Before Wale and Fat Trel, there was Asheru and Black Indian, among others. They toured internationally, signed record deals, and showed the world that there's more to D.C. than go-go music. They didn't get the shine that today's rappers receive because go-go was still the dominant genre in the city and its suburbs. In 2001, Asheru and Blue Black—known collectively as The Unspoken Heard—released the Soon Come album, a widely heralded gem still discussed on hip-hop message boards.

Shortly after that, Asheru pulled back to focus on other ventures. He recorded a song for the opening credits of The Boondocks cartoon series. Asheru is a Peabody Award winner and co-founder of Education Lyrics LLC, which publishes teaching materials that use hip-hop lyrics to help students read.

It's been a long while since we've heard new music from Asheru, though. "Gauteng," the first single from his forthcoming Sleepless in Soweto album, features Raheem DeVaughn. It's a wistful track that takes in South Africa's sun-drenched beauty: "Been a lot of places, but none quite like here ... mama Africa's arms are wide open, the dreams of the prodigal sun are unfolding." Sleepless in Soweto is a "love letter to South Africa," Asheru says in an email. "It is an example of where we can go with our art form and voice, and the endless possibilities of what it could be." The album, featuring Carolyn Malachi, Wayna, and Funk Ark, is out Nov. 12. —MJM

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