Arts Desk

The Breaks: Trillectro and a Song for Ferguson

The Breaks is back after a two-week hiatus with thoughts on the surprise hit that regenerated national interest in Wale four years ago, new music from Yung Gleesh, Rahiem Supreme, and Dino Bam, and an old Rob Regal song that’s become painfully relevant in the wake of what’s happening in Ferguson, Mo. Then, of course, Trillectro is tomorrow.

The Redemptive Power of "No Hands"
In August 2010, Wale’s career was in limbo. After parting ways with Interscope Records following the commercial morebaoutnothingunderperformance of his debut album, Attention Deficit, there were doubts floating around about the D.C. rapper’s future. Wale channeled his frustration into music, revisiting the Seinfeld-inspired formula that scored him national praise two years earlier with The Mixtape About Nothing. The product was More About Nothing, which featured an unlikely hit that ultimately resurrected Wale’s career.

"No Hands," featuring Atlanta rapper Waka Flocka and hook master Roscoe Dash, was spaghetti flung at the wall that unexpectedly stuck. Though it was really Waka Flocka’s single from his debut album, Flockaveli, it did far more for Wale. It was a breakaway hit that rocked parties from Labor Day all the way until the ball dropped on New Year’s Day 2011, largely due to triumphant production by Drumma Boy and Roscoe Dash’s infectious chorus. Though it was a huge departure from his sound at the time and deviated from More About Nothing’s theme, it exposed Wale to a new audience—many of whom make up his current fanbase—and made him a commodity once again.

Wale's appearance on the song, along with his signing to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group label in early 2011, prompted the "sellout" chants. The reality is that if the song had never escaped Atlanta and gained the national traction it did, no one would be calling Wale a "sellout," or anything at all. It was looking grim for his career just before More About Nothing and "No Hands" dropped, and they both—the latter, especially—revived it. It’s kind of like how John Travolta resuscitated Uma Thurman with that famous adrenaline shot to the heart in Pulp Fiction.

Beyond that, in an era of disposable music, you have to appreciate a party record that’s actually good. I’ve witnessed the energy that "No Hands" emits when performed live, and it’s something to behold. Plus, many of the same people criticizing Wale’s motives know every word of his verse.

There are other strong tracks on More About Nothing, but "No Hands" will be remembered as the self-aware transition (it’s titled "The Guilty Pleasure" on the project’s tracklist) from the Wale of old to the artist we know now.

The New Music That Yung Gleesh Promised
Fresh from headlining his first all-ages show in D.C. two weeks ago, Yung Gleesh released a video for some of the new music he promised when I last spoke to him. The video for "Since When," directed by Will Hoopes, finds the D.C. rapper challenging unchecked artists’ credibility. It also echoes an issue he raised during our conversation prior to his concert: "Back in the day, if you had some questionable characteristics about you, it was a wrap for you," he said. "Now people are willing to overlook that just to get on—so I don’t really like this new D.C., because people don’t even question your credibility anymore."

Be on the lookout for Gleesh’s next project, Cleanside’s Finest 3, which now has a release date: Sept. 16.

Dino Bam’s Wave
Dino Bam, a singer/rapper hybrid from Virginia by way of Kentucky, released The Wave EP. Produced entirely by Tone P, the seven-song project features late-summer music for listeners looking for an indulgence. Listen to it below, and purchase it on iTunes.

Some Things Never Change
"The Patriot Act" was an interlude that Rob Regal recorded for his The Balance album back in 2011. Though it didn’t make the final cut, the themes addressed have become even more relevant three years later in light of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. "Sometimes, you have to drop music simply because it’s right," Regal wrote of the song. "Sad to say that I recorded this in 2011 and not much has changed here in 2014."

New Rahiem Supreme
While his growing fanbase waits for the release of his Lost Gemz project, Rahiem Supreme continues to whet their appetites with new music. The QB-produced "Wait A Minute" is a haunting, bass-heavy offering that’s accented by Supreme's characteristic aggression and insight, plus pop-culture nods to O.J. Simpson, Shaquille O’Neal, Iron Man, and Alec Baldwin. He teases listeners just enough to make them even more eager for Lost Gemz.

A Little Thing Called Trillectro
If you didn't know, the Trillectro Music Festival returns tomorrow, looking to take another huge leap forward in its third year. To accommodate its growing following, it will relocate to the RFK Festival Grounds. This year’s lineup boasts another healthy mixture of local talent (Fat Trel, Ras Nebyu, Oddisee, Lightshow, and GoldLink, to name a few) and national acts (headliner Big Sean, Baauer, Migos, and the "No Flex Zone" kids, Rae Sremmurd).


Because this is a weekend-long celebration, there are also a couple of parties supporting the event. If you’re in town tonight, the pre-party will invade Capitale, while the official afterparty will be held at the 9:30 Club tomorrow night.

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