Why should I listen?
Over the past few months on social media, local fans of the DMV music scene have expressed their growing displeasure with the homogeneity of the region’s rap sound — counting both the menacing, minimal Cheecho-fronted production style and the flow artists are using over it. There are pros and cons to the uniformity that comes out of the area. Having a recognizable sound has undoubtedly helped spread the reach of DMV artists, even influencing rappers outside of its borders to try their hands at the style. But — as digging for new music on the internet tends to be in general — it does become challenging to sift through the lot when many are covering the same set of topics in a similar fashion. Still, there is a healthy variety of artists who are using their local sound as a foundation to springboard themselves into more imaginative approaches.
One of the best examples of this is PG County, Maryland native Lil Gray, an artist who is equipped to speak to his local contemporaries while also showing the range to appeal to listeners near and far. On his most recent tape, Man of Many (a perfect description of his skillset), Gray goes from completely chaotic bangers like “Used to Be Broke” to flipping old hits from Mike Jones to giving you lullaby-like harmonizing about being gone off the Captain Morgan. His AutoTune singing voice is lush at some moments, while at others he uses modulation to let out completely out of control vocal runs. And he shows this range not only on his solo work, but even when doing collaborative tapes with fellow Maryland standout Goonew, whose music always teeters on sheer gore.
The most exciting — and fulfilling — part of bumping Lil Gray is the feeling that he is enjoying himself at all times which seamlessly carriers over to whoever’s listening. I mean, who else is rapping over flips of Sisqo’s “Thong Song” with precision?
Written By: Lawrence Burney