As I wiped the cold out of my eye, I thanked God for yet another new music Friday. Okay, the cold thing was a bit hyperbolic; I always make sure I’m clean and presentable before I get on the site to write. That said, the point still stands: there’s some good Baltimore music out today. Two projects, though, stick out to me as being indicative of where Baltimore hip-hop’s been over the past few months and years and where it can still go.
John Wells’ LUCKEE WORLD features the Baltimore rhymesayer channeling his inner Spitta over soulful beats and continues the buzz the rapper built up over the last few years. At just over thirteen minutes, Wells dices through beats and gives newcomers a look into what makes him unique. It’s a bit wild to think that Wells has really come into his own over the last few years–specifically through the time spent on Luckee Jordan and now. He’s always been lyrical, but he’s starting to put it all together and making waves the only way he knows how. The standout track, for me, was “When My Mama Come Home,” a sparsely-produced “hit you in the feels” type of song where Wells talks about some of the darkness he’s seen and the fact that he’s still standing tall in the midst of the losses he’s endured, both personally and beyond himself. It’s also a bit different than the rest of the project as it’s not as soul-sampling as the rest.
On the other side of the spectrum, you’ve got Shokus Apollo’s The Masked Tape 2. Full disclosure, as a DAR Elite-featuring project, I do appear on this one a few times. With that fully in mind, Apollo assumes the role of an elder statesman in some ways, finetuning his craft on each and every track he touches. This is pretty impressive since he, True and I have together amassed over 60 years of musical experience between us. I love the mixtape approach of this one, sort of like Call Me If You Get Lost except Drama’s been replaced by True and Pegs handling the shit-talking DJ moments.
One of the biggest strengths of Apollo’s music is that he’s diverse in his approach. One song, you’ll hear him gathering up his inner Nas, storytelling with the best of them. Then, the next song, you may hear him sing-rapping and reflecting. The one after that, he may decide to talk about running the streets like Future. His beat selection has improved a bunch since his early days and his lyrical daggers slice through the soundscapes like a masked murderer.
The projects above highlight the positives of the Baltimore music scene, celebrating it without really doing the same thing twice. Check them both out and remember to support dope music in all its forms.