Hasani, 'All U Need'
Recently, people have started to place more emphasis on the need for self-love and self-reliance. When it comes to dating, a person should come into a partnership without needing to feel that they are being completed by someone else, and their self-worth doesn’t need to hang on the success of a relationship. That outlook is the gist of Prince George’s County singer Hasani’s new single “All U Need.”
The song’s stripped-down production allows Hasani to fully articulate to a love interest that he doesn’t have the capacity for commitment due to his life as an artist. To a skeptic, Hasani’s reasoning in this scenario could be viewed as a passive excuse. But while attempting to establish this healthy line of communication, his singing over somber guitar strokes makes for a beautifully honest confessional on personal boundaries.
:3lon, Randi Withani and Troy Long, '12 Yrs Latahh'
Some of the most resonant soul music strikes a type of nostalgia that can place you so squarely in the past that you can recall traces of smells and tastes you haven’t encountered in years — or people. “12 Yrs Latahh,” a collaborative track between :3lon, Randi Withani and Troy Long does just that. The song — which all three Baltimore artists had a hand in — finds former lovers catching up after years without communication, and it makes for a restorative conversation about where each person was mentally during their time together. Long’s production features airy synths that feel like wind chimes swaying on a breezy porch and drum patterns that hark back to neo soul-informed rap. Both feel like a walk down memory lane.
The conviction in the way :3lon sings the opening verse helps drive the feelings of melancholy and regret: “It’s not like you hurt me purposely/My head was in a different place back then/Honestly, it still bothers me when I think about how different it could have been,” he reflects. Withani’s side of the story — sung in a measured, contemplative tone — comes with more poise. In her verse, she mentions how paramount it was for her to view their failed relationship through :3lon’s perspective, and how she never considered (until recently) that she might have some responsibility in how it all played out. When the song reaches its end, it’s clear that both parties believe that there is not only room for reconciliation, but that they also want to give their love another shot as their more mature selves.
Luh Kiddo, 'Block Boy'
The specific parts of the region that qualify as the DMV may constantly be in question, but something that can’t be disputed is that artists from the District, Maryland and Virginia are regularly in communication, thanks to social media. And because of that, different cities and counties in the region are starting to undergo a type of cross-pollination where ideas and approaches to art are being exchanged. Richmond’s Luh Kiddo is a prime example of that.
In production and vocal delivery, the rapper’s new track “Block Boy” is spot on with the street music that’s been developing between Prince George’s County and the District for the past few years. Ominous keys, sharp hi hats and thumping bass loop throughout the June-released single while Luh Kiddo passionately punches in bars that pay respect to various sections of Richmond’s West End. It has the makings of a local anthem, with the type of neighborhood specificity that drives listeners to go as hard as possible when their ’hoods are shouted out. There’s also something about the energy that Kiddo raps with that makes it hit with more emphasis as well.
Charlie Monroe, 'Ben 10'
In the standout Cartoon Network show “Ben 10,” a kid named Ben Tennyson finds a watch-like device that enables him to morph into 10 different alien creatures that have the ability to fight off the evil creatures that roam the Earth and the rest of the solar system. These fights are exceptionally chaotic and high-stakes, but in the grand scheme of things, last for a short duration of time. So it’s fitting that in her track named after the show, Maryland rapper Charlie Monroe takes only 70 seconds to create an equally maddening experience that leaves you hanging on for more.
The only real connection to the “Ben 10” animated series is the strain of marijuana Monroe mentions that she’s smoking, which is called Alien Cookies. But it’s her assured tone that really sticks out. She compares unworthy, goofy guys approaching her to Disney characters, notes that her friend group started to shrink once she started making more money, and cautions against envious people in your life. It’s a short, exhilarating burst of energy that you’ll be forced to play on a loop.