On “Holla, Holla,” a track on rapper Rye Rye’s debut album, “Go! Pop! Bang!,” she rhymes: “See I been in it for a minute, holding my spot down / I ain’t seen n’er chick that can move a crowd.” When the Baltimore native and M.I.A. protege started recording “Go! Pop! Bang!” circa 2008, that wasn’t just a boast, it was fact. The project was eagerly anticipated, not only because of Rye’s talent but because the number of up-and-coming female MCs coming down the pike at that time was even lower than usual.
“Go! Pop! Bang!” was delayed for years for numerous reasons, including Rye Rye taking time off to have a baby, and during that time, there was a femcee boomlet of sorts. The last four years have brought us Azealia Banks, Kreayshawn and, most notably, Nicki Minaj, but the slightly more crowded field only serves to show how special Rye Rye is.
Because “Go! Pop! Bang!” has been in the works for so long, a lot of it is familiar (you’ve heard “Bang,” with M.I.A., even if you don’t know you have). But Rye Rye’s super-speedy, old-school raps — guys, dancing, partying and friends are her favorite topics — are still charming, and the breakbeat-and-bass-heavy production (handled here by Diplo, Egyptian Lover and others) is always infectious.
Rye is as much a dancer as a rapper, as anyone who has seen her live can attest to, and her springiest tracks involve her rhyming with a dancer’s perfect sense of timing, as on the Rudy “Mayru” Maya-produced, Vengaboys-sampling “Boom Boom.” She has moved away from the unadulterated Baltimore club of her early collaborations with DJ Blaqstarr, but the city still flavors her music, as on the Pharrell-produced “Shake Twist Drop,” which sounds like the Morgan State marching band battling kids playing a clapping game on a Baltimore stoop. “Crazy [Expletive],” featuring Akon, is a ballad (really!) and one of the slowest, sparsest pieces on the album. Depending on one’s investment in dance music, it’s either a nice intermission or an unwanted interruption.
“Shake Twist Drop,” “Crazy [Expletive],” “Boom Boom”
Rye Rye will perform Saturday at Soundgarden in Baltimore.