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See them now - and brag about it later
"I think she has been getting a bad rap," he says. "She is an experimental artist, and not everyone who likes 'Paper Planes' is going to like her album. She is very loud musically and verbally. She doesn't sit in a corner and let things happen. She makes them happen. Sometimes she may put her foot in [her mouth], but we all do. That's just her."
For now, Rusko is more synonymous with getting feet moving on dance floors. And while it remains to be seen if dubstep will crossover to the mainstream, he's confident, and his casting it as the ultimate party genre makes it hard to argue with him.
"People all over the world just want to get [wasted] and listen to great music, have fun with their friends and maybe get laid at the end of the night," he says.
That's something even Americans could enjoy.
Fat Trel and Black Cobain
The lowdown: Two rappers who are rushing to the head of the local hip-hop class
Kindred spirits: Wale, Lupe Fiasco,
PERFORMING: Oct. 29 at noon. Both will perform at Howard University's Yard Fest. 2400 Sixth St. NW, Upper Quadrangle. Free.
It's about time to stop worrying about the lack of a true breakout star from the local hip-hop scene and to simply appreciate the abundance of up-and-coming talent that calls the DMV home. At this point it's a matter of when, not if, a young rapper becomes a crossover success. Odds-on favorite Wale didn't quite reach that level with his major-label debut, "Attention Deficit," but he certainly succeeded in bringing increased attention to the area. Now a couple of MCs he has taken under his wing, Black Cobain and Fat Trel, may reap the benefits.
Both are part of local label/collective the Board of Administration that has been gaining steam in the past few months with Wale's presence adding serious cachet. It's easy to hear why he has become such a hearty backer for the pair: Both boast distinct, complementary styles that come fully formed on their respective recent mixtapes.
Black Cobain (a.k.a. Marcus Gloster, 25) is an Alexandria native with a relaxed approach. He's a thoughtful lyricist whose nimble wordplay and refreshing honesty shine through on "Now." "I'm not afraid to fail/But I'm afraid of jail/I'm afraid of heaven/Because we living in hell," he raps on "Afraid," offering a sentiment not often heard in the genre.
So why did he name himself after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain? The inspiration came from an uncle who listened to rock music - "the weirdest guy," Black Cobain remembers thinking. But he eventually started listening himself, and later in college, when he would go to clubs and spend the night "partying like a rock star," he called it his "Cobain lifestyle." (Even if that wasn't exactly how the Nirvana frontman lived.) Still, the inspiration is real.
"He was not afraid to be himself and tell it how it was," Black Cobain says.
For now, that means taking pride in being a part of the burgeoning DMV rap scene but also focusing on his own projects.
"It feels like I'm a part of a movement, but it's a movement within a movement for me. And that's Board of Administration. Because at the end of the day, it's a competition," he says.
One of his main partners in that competition is Fat Trel (a.k.a. Martrel Reeves, 20). Black Cobain's songs might be best appreciated with headphones; Fat Trel's are meant to be heard out of the most booming sound system you can find.
When asked what defines his sound, he quickly replies, "Street wise, never hold anything back." With the assistance of his production team, the Bass Headz, his "No Secrets" mixtape is a constant barrage of club-ready bangers featuring fierce and passionate storytelling.
"I give everything," he says. "Tomorrow ain't promised for none of us, so I want to leave it all out on the table when I can."
That sentiment may be a touch fatalistic, but Trel is serious about putting himself out there. Soon after "No Secrets" hit the Internet (the same day in late summer as Black Cobain's "Now") he released all the tracks that didn't make the final cut. He also does regular freestyles on WKYS 93.9 and WPGC 95.5 and guest verses on other rappers' songs.
"Practice makes perfect," he says matter-of-factly. That intense desire to be heard never comes across as needy in his songs; in fact that hungriness is his greatest attribute.
Both rappers got plenty of practice at local open-mike nights, where they honed their craft the past couple of years. "On big stages, you can mess up and they'll laugh and still cheer," Black Cobain says. "But if you're in front of a small crowd and you mess up one little line it's like, how do I bounce back from that? It's harder to keep 100 people's attention than 8,000 screaming fans."
"It was 30 people in the crowd and 20 of those people were rappers, singers or poets," Trel said of his experience, mostly at U Street club Pure Lounge. "That's what made me the artist I am today. "
And it's what could make both of them stars of tomorrow.