January’s best local rap and R&B

Published 1/31/2023 6:00 a.m. EST

Man with microphone, woman recording, pressing play on music app

We’re at the end of 2023′s first month and local artists are just getting into the swing of informing what we’ll be dancing to for the remainder of the year. So, if anything, January is a teaser. Still, a few of our favorites in rap and R&B have impressed us already. Here’s a roundup of the best from those genres this month.

Mannyvelli, ‘All Black’ featuring Goonew

It’s been almost a year since Prince George’s County rapper Goonew was murdered in an attempted robbery near his home. Consequently, every time new music of his is released to the public, it’s a combined feeling of excitement and mourning. The 24-year-old’s rap style, an evolution of the often-imitated “DMV Flow,” was influential beyond local borders. Artists from New York, Atlanta and France can be heard incorporating it still, which adds to Goonew’s legacy. Last week, his voice reemerged as a guest on P.G. County producer Mannyvelli’s first compilation tape, “Politics As Usual.” The song “All Black” sees Manny flipping obscure R&B samples as Goonew talks about his substances of choice and the kind of trouble in which he found himself. It’s all the more painful when, early in the song, Goonew raps, “The life I’m living, I could die any day.” — Lawrence Burney

Bandhunta Izzy & Steelz, ‘Let’s Go’

Compared to his output between 2016 and 2019, when he was making connections with artists nationwide and becoming a well-known rapper outside of home, Bandhunta Izzy has slowed down a bit. But that hasn’t resulted in any shortage of skill. Whether he’s constantly in our faces, Izzy has been one of the more lyrically capable artists to come out of Baltimore’s street rap scene. He recently released a track with producer Steelz called “Let’s Go” that feels like, if it came out in 2016, Future may have hopped on it. The song is a nonstop onslaught of core-rattling drums as Izzy rhymes about his long resume of rap accolades, accumulating funds and doing dirt. It’s basically an all-over-the-place stream of consciousness that feels more like an exercise than a particular statement. — LB

YMC Ant, ‘Only One’

YMC Ant has an uncanny ability to craft some of the catchiest songs, and “Only One” is more of the same. The Baltimore-born artist taps into his more sentimental side for his female fans on this smooth single, and the product is what we’ve grown accustomed to: catchy, repetitive hooks and melodic verses. Backed by a sample of Faith Evans’s “Soon As I Get Home,” Ant’s bouncy cadence blended with the elegant production will make listeners bob their heads throughout. Short of displaying his technical rapping skills, “Only One” is a showcase of Ant’s potential as a hitmaker. — Taji Burris

OTR Chaz & Roddy Rackzz, ‘Metro Spider RMX’

Shortly after releasing their remix to Drake’s “Jumbotron Shit Poppin,” OTR Chaz and Roddy Rackzz are back with a remix of “Metro Spider,” the standout track with Young Thug on producer Metro Boomin’s “Heroes & Villains” album. Originally only consisting of Young Thug’s flow switches, the unofficial duo of Chaz and Rackzz attack the production with different approaches. Chaz’s melodic tendencies seamlessly complement Rackzz’s aggressive punchline style. Consisting of fast-paced, braggadocious raps, “Metro Spider RMX” doesn’t break any new ground, but is enjoyable nonetheless. — TB

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