This month’s best local rap and R&B

Published 8/30/2022 6:00 a.m. EDT

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

Baltimore, and the DMV area in its entirety, never has a shortage of compelling music coming out of the various cultural pockets that sprinkle the region. That’s especially true of the rap and R&B scenes here, which continue to make strides on a national and local scale. To keep track of what’s going on, and help you keep your playlists up to date, The Baltimore Banner will bring you a monthly roundup of the best — and most captivating — rap and R&B from this area. Here are our picks for August.

The Baltimore rapper remixed Future’s new hit, “WAIT FOR U,” but with a twist. Instead of opting to use the song’s original subject of addressing a love interest, Chaz taunts one of his enemies, assuring him that he’s aware of every move that his opposition makes. The unique twist, reminiscent of his “A Thousand Miles” and “Jingle Bells” flips, is another stellar display of Chaz’s ability to think outside of the box when it comes to songwriting.

Taji Burris

Baby Kahlo has been a standout in the city’s alternative scene for a few years now, and after a pretty quiet first half of 2022, the West Baltimore rapper dropped a two-song EP titled “Kahlo’s Revenge for her birthday this past week. The first track is a Baltimore Club edit of 2020′s “Talk My $hit,” but the second is particularly strong. “Bottomfeeders,” which features Prince George’s County’s Kelow LaTesha (who also dropped a new EP last week), is a high powered duet that scoffs at people who try their hardest to bring you down while you’re on your way to new heights. Produced by Baltimore’s Ghostie, the song is an important reminder to not give too much energy to folks who’d enjoy seeing you fail.

Lawrence Burney

Tmcthedon has made a name for himself due to his crooning tendencies in his music and this song is no different. “All Your Scars” also features two of the hottest artists currently in Baltimore, Roddy Rackzz and YMC Ant, who both deliver braggadocious verses dedicated to women. Tmc, however, harmonizes a catchy, heartfelt chorus about a breakup which is the true highlight of the track.

— TB

Things have been moving fast for Silver Spring native Joony, an artist whose rapping skills and melodic efforts are equally compelling. After a consistent output of quality music over the past two years, he’s just now starting to gain the favor of listeners and tastemakers outside the DMV region. A big part of that is due to a co-sign from Brent Faiyaz, the bona fide R&B superstar who hails from Columbia, Maryland. Earlier this year, Joony appeared on Faiyaz’s “WASTELAND album, which also featured musical titans like Drake, Alicia Keys and The Neptunes. To follow that career-shifting move, Joony released a deluxe version of his May-released project Pretty In Black earlier this month. A standout from it is “21.” On it, Joony nonchalantly lists off the pleasures that a life of near-stardom offer for someone his age. Brooding key hits and ethereal synths are in perfect unison as he talks about enjoying car service, beautiful women and luxury items.

— LB

One could argue that Washington, D.C., singer Ari Lennox is at the forefront of contemporary neo-soul. With a sultry tone and an urgent delivery, Lennox has a gift for reaching into your soul and transferring whatever she’s experiencing right onto her listeners. There’s also something nostalgic about her style of singing, which often feels like the artists that’d be on summer festival stages, such as the locally-beloved Stone Soul Picnic. It makes sense considering that her delivery is a direct descendant of female voices you’d hear on live recordings of D.C. go-go being played all around the district’s metropolitan area. Earlier this month, Lennox released “Hoodie,” a track that sees her yearning to get closer to a guy who has caught her eye. Throughout the song, she fantasizes about stealing and wearing his hoodie after spending a night together. She even nods to 2000s D.C. fashion sensibilities when she croons, “Dreaming of how you taste, underneath that North Face.” The track feels like a lead up to a new album, which would be her first since her 2019 career-defining project “Shea Butter Baby.”

— LB

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