Every Sunday in this column, I’ll run through some arts and culture highlights from Baltimore and the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region — and, when it makes sense, some broader, nonlocal topics, too. Plus, every now and then I’ll provide some of my favorite tunes.
This week I take a quick look back at club music’s impact in 2022, an eight-year-old classic from D.C.’s Shy Glizzy going platinum, and a cool series centered around talking to Black Baltimoreans about their comfortability with COVID vaccinations.
Club Music’s Impact in 2022
Between the late ’80s and early ’90s, Baltimore developed its own homegrown genre: the frenetic, dance-inspiring Baltimore club. And in the decades since, the branch of electronic dance music has had a few mainstream moments and helped introduce locally adored artists to the broader world.
Club music also spread north during that span. In the ’90s and 2000s, Philadelphia and Newark, New Jersey developed their own versions of club. Over the past decade, Jersey club has dominated the conversation, having more internet-savvy artists and movements than here in Baltimore. But 2022 belonged to Philly. That’s in large part due to producer DJ Crazy’s “Shake That,” which has taken over TikTok feeds and the hearts of children across the country who’ve been mastering their best takes on Philly’s accompanying hips dance.
The success of “Shake That” and other songs by its featured artists DSturdy and Zahsosaa sent a shockwave through the music industry and inspired rap titans to give club music a try. Most notable is Drake’s “Honestly, Nevermind” album and Philly-born superstar Lil Uzi Vert’s recent “Just Wanna Rock.” All of this has sparked internet-wide conversations about club music’s origins (this happens every year) and which East Coast city holds the title for the most impact.
Ironically, Baltimore — the original home of club — has the least amount of recognition in 2022, but the heightened appetite for the genre inspired local artists to either hop back on the wave or get back to what they’ve done best over the years.
With the year coming to a close, I felt like it was time to pay respects to some of the local club records that I feel were the most impressive this year:
Donn3ydon — “AH BAH” (featured above)
Abdu Ali — “My Best Friend”
RunItUp Jordan — Get Drxnk Anthem
Rican Da Menace — Ain’t Going Back
Miss Kam — Let It Simmer
Nfl Jizzle — Get It On, featuring Scudda
Tate Kobang — Ride
Shy Glizzy’s classic “White Girl” is certified platinum
At this point, Grammy-nominated Southeast D.C. rapper Shy Glizzy is somewhat of an elder statesmen in the DMV rap scene. He’ll be 30 this year and, to date, has been the most successful street artist to ever come from the nation’s capital. Things have been relatively quiet for him over the past year or two, but when you’ve carried a scene on your back for as long as he has, you deserve a little break.
If you were to ask the majority of young people who their favorite DMV rapper is right now, you may not get many saying Shy. And that’s because hip-hop culture is heavy on the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mindset. But no one would dare dispute that from about 2013-2018, Shy’s run of mixtapes and hits is rivaled by a small few, if any.
My personal favorite from that span of time is his 2014 mixtape “Young Jefe” — a top-to-bottom explosion of energy fueled by Shy’s screeching voice. That project featured his biggest hit“Awesome,” which Beyoncé used as part of her live show for an entire tour. But the real fan favorite was “White Girl,” a song that embodied the tape’s “Scarface”-inspired theme by personifying cocaine as a love interest.
Earlier this week, as a complete (but pleasant) shock to many, Shy shared that “White Girl” was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America November 30th. It’s a real testament to his staying power, the beauty of his doing this as an independent artist, and evidence that if you give your fans something to connect to, at any point in your career, they’ll cherish it forever. As a celebration of its platinum status, Glizzy also released a video for the song this week, eight years after its release. A smart play to drive its numbers up even more.
Sir Alex’s Covid Conversations
In late October, Fearless Video and Black Public Media came together to launch COVID Conversations, a video series hosted by comedian Sir Alex where he goes around Baltimore talking to Black residents about their hesitancy about being vaccinated. Though there are some lighthearted moments in this series, it tackles a real challenge. According to the Baltimore City COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, 70% of city residents are fully vaccinated while only 58% of the city’s Black population are.
The aim of COVID Conversations is to get to the root of Black people’s distrust of government on all levels and to provide them with helpful information that will make them reconsider being fully vaccinated. Though the series launched in October, new videos are uploaded every week and it’s worth checking out and sharing.