Whether it was Baltimore’s own actress, Moses Ingram, lighting up the screen in her fantastic roles in “The Queen’s Gambit” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” or Columbia’s favorite singer, Brent Faiyaz, finding commercial success with his “Wasteland” album, Maryland has been well-represented throughout recent years in entertainment. As we prepare for 2023, here are several other Black Maryland creatives who could have a breakout year.
Baltimore recording artist 448 Riq has been on a tear since launching into his first year of rapping in 2022. Riq released three projects — from his collection of songs on “20 Under 20, 30 Before 30″ to his album “Trap Champion” to his EP “Hard by Mistake,“ the 19-year-old is finding his audience. He accumulated more than 100,000 views on his YouTube channel in 2022.
“Everybody got to see the progression this year,” said Riq. “I ain’t gonna lie, this year was a lot of hard work. I learned a lot about just rapping and myself. It was cool, though, because you only get one first impression and I think when it reached the people, I really gave them something to talk about.”
Riq is undeniably the rookie of the year for Baltimore rap. His arrival on the scene was highly anticipated, earning comparisons to the NBA’s breakout star, Ja Morant, thanks to his realistic but exciting approach, which gives him the ability to appeal to the urban audience.
“From each project, people got to see me grow and I’m gonna do the same thing in 2023. I’m just gonna drop a lot of new music and reach out to more artists. I’m probably gonna be outta here this time next year,” he said, laughing.
Columbia, Maryland-born actor Ham Mukasa has had quite a year. He starred in three projects that are now on streaming platforms and is filming a short film. The most notable of the three, “We Own This City,” was a miniseries based on Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force scandal, which viewers can stream on HBO.
Mukasa, 29, played Evodio Hendrix in the six-episode series. “This was all surreal. It’s super close to home, so to be able to be a part of something like that was a major blessing,” he said.
When asked what’s next for him, Mukasa remained tight-lipped, but he assured me that he would be seen all over the screens.
Cheyanne Zadia, a Baltimore-born creative, spreads her talent across several different lanes. Predominantly known for her music, Zadia is also working behind the scenes on several films.
Since 2012, Zadia has worked on documentary-style projects, but now she’s branching out to developing and directing her episodic series, “Vacants.” The series is a complement to her last solo music project of the same name, released in 2020. The concept of “Vacants” relates to Zadia’s experience growing up in Baltimore, surrounded by an estimated 15,000 vacant houses.
“2022 was filled with me doing so much, it’s hard for me to even think about all of it,” Zadia said. “It was dominated by me working on the ‘Vacants’ series, but I still was creating music and doing a lot of features. I also been painting and traveling to kind of just ease my mind from all of the work I’ve been doing since January.”
Prior to the release of “Vacants,” Zadia has several other directorial film projects that will debut in 2023 as well as plenty of music to release. But she won’t stop there.
“I have several events I will be curating in 2023 as well as the music and films I’m working on. I’m just excited to present all of this stuff to everybody because I’m extremely passionate about everything I’m currently doing,” she said.
Singer and songwriter Hasani, who hails from Prince George’s County, has only been making music officially for about five years, but his talent and skill could convince listeners that he’s a tenured artist. Hasani’s enjoyable EP “Make No Promises” was released in December, and with standout tracks “Goin Down” and “Run,” he believes this project was the perfect development to catapult his career.
“I spent most of the year loading up for what I just delivered,” the 27-year-old singer said. “My theme for the year was trying to create something that’s worthwhile and of high quality. Now I’m going to use that to have a lot more visibility in 2023. I want my art to be performed at a high level constantly and I think “Make No Promises” was the perfect way to make it possible.”
Although he technically only worked on his “Make No Promises” EP since 2021, Hasani believes the project really was a curation of his whole life. “I just used a lot of my experiences and put it into this music,” he said “Whether it was the actual lyrics or just using what I learned about creating music, I just incorporated everything I learned over the years.”