From the Grammy Awards to the Super Bowl and NBA All-Star Game halftime shows, February put music on some of the biggest stages in the country. But there was music being released right here in Baltimore and the surrounding areas that’s worth a listen, too. Here’s a look at some of the strongest rap and R&B tracks that came out this month.
Roddy Rackzz & OTR Chaz, ‘GOING’
“GOING” first premiered at Gervonta Davis’ boxing match against Héctor García, where Roddy Rackzz and OTR Chaz performed it as an introductory song for the Baltimore-born athlete. Clocking in at just under two minutes on YouTube, the music video serves as a behind-the-scenes look into Davis’ locker room with cameos from Lil Baby, Pusha T and Shy Glizzy. Rackzz rap is a hook that we’re accustomed to hearing from the artist: He name-drops several high-end designer brands while bragging about making it out of poverty. The highlight of the song, though, comes from Chaz. The melodic rapper uses his verse to deliver multiple flow switches and different pitches.
— Taji Burris
Ankhlejohn, ‘MOVING MOUNTAINS’
Southeast D.C.’s Ankhlejohn belongs to a national network of rappers that beautifully join obscure, altered samples of old soul music with poetic musings on life’s intricacies. His squawk of a voice commands immediate attention as it cuts through that production, and there’s always something valuable to take away. “MOVING MOUNTAINS” comes from “The Dead Don’t Die,” a nostalgic album that Ankhlejohn released earlier this month that tackles various thoughts: how disappointing it is to witness people conveniently throw their integrity out the window, the need to check up on loved ones, trying to figure out why you aren’t being taken seriously. A somber loop carries this stream of consciousness and, like all of Ankhlejohn’s best work, “MOVING MOUNTAINS” is a peek into his diary that assures you that we’re all still trying to figure it out.
— Lawrence Burney
Yg Teck & Peezy, ‘Day I Die’
The “Champain” album by Yg Teck and Peezy is chock full of motivational lyrics, which is what listeners have come to expect from both artists. “Day I Die” is a perfect example. Over production by CarouselBain and Renwy, Teck raps quotable lines like “making sure my work ethic worth all I’m making” on the song’s hook while Peezy ends his own verse with “keep going, if you don’t make it … at least you tried.” The rappers have distinctly different styles, but this track is another testament to the fact that their substance is similar.
Dave James featuring Foggieraw & Ari Lennox, ‘TGI Fridays’
Ari Lennox is one of the most critically acclaimed R&B artists working today and is signed to the record label of J. Cole, one of the world’s biggest rappers. But when she was still finding her way in the local DMV scene over a decade ago, one of her most consistent collaborators was producer and singer Dave James (as this video proves). So it’s cool to see that connection still going strong in James’ recently released “TGI Fridays,” which features Ari and Prince George’s County rapper Foggieraw. The song is a sweet confession of the butterflies a new person gives you in those first moments together, when time stops. Ari and James’ melodies are pristine and Foggieraw’s smooth drawl fits right in.
serpentwithfeet, ‘Gonna Go’
Baltimore native serpentwithfeet is a master at articulating those little fleeting thoughts surrounding romance — its challenges, its intensity and its temporary pleasures that sometimes come with immense consequence. His new song “Gonna Go” wrestles with the latter. More poppy than usual in production, it’s a song that can be partied to, which isn’t typical of his output. But within its contents are contemplations on how great sex, spontaneity and having a pair of slippers at someone’s place aren’t substitutes for intentionally articulated love. “Gonna Go” is a reluctant goodbye as he leaves to find someone who actually wants him.