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City Paper: “Rapper DDm is out of the closet. Got a problem with that?”


photo by Michael Northrup

Oh man, very happy I got to do this one. DDm, formerly known as Midas, has been a favorite on this blog for a few years now and he’s one of my favorite Baltimore rappers, and last year he came out of the closet in Baltimore’s Gay Life newspaper. We sat down for about two hours, ate sushi and chocolate chip pancakes, and talked about his career, his coming out, and lots of other stuff. He has a new project out called Winter and the Tinman’s Heart, which in a quote that I couldn’t fit into the piece, DDm explained is “modeled around the mid-seventies Queen albums, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Steely Dan’s Aja, Dark Side of the Moon.” You can download the album over at DatPiff.

“My shit has to be stellar, especially because it’s me,” DDm declares over lunch at a Mount Vernon café on a wet Sunday in mid-January, the Ravens vs. Patriots playoff game buzzing in the background. “I have to create cinema with this one.” He isn’t simply gassing me up about his latest project, a rap/club concept album called Winter and the Tinman’s Heart. He’s acknowledging that as Baltimore’s “gay rapper,” there’s just way more stacked up against him.

Cynics in the city have framed his coming out as a gimmick, which is, of course, total bullshit. He’s been a well-established and respected MC in Baltimore since the mid-2000s, first as Midas, a vicious, hilarious battle rapper, and, until recently, as Dappa!!! Dan Midas, a member of Mania Music Group. But he’s patient with rappers who now keep their distance. “Post-coming out, rappers respect me, but they’ll never say it, and I understand why,” he says matter-of-factly.

Written by Brandon

February 15th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Posted in City Paper, Midas

City Paper: “Local Rap Veterans Los and Mullyman”

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Wrote something about Baltimore hip-hop and the XXL Freshman 10 “reader’s poll,” which featured Los and Mullyman. Both of them are the kinds of guys that, being poppy street rappers and all,  were being cultivated to be stars a few years ago but wisely avoided label B.S. and kinda “missed” their “chance.” They may get that chance at stardom soon but like, what’s the point? Much of this is probably obvious to readers of this blog and it’s sort of a localized, smooshed-up version of my SPIN article, but I feel like what I’m saying here is probably not so obvious to plenty of Baltimore rappers who still mention “going platinum” and stuff. But if you’re tired of this kind of talk, you should still check out Los and Mullyman, both of whom put out some really good mixtapes this year: Los’ Worth The Wait and Mullyman’s Mullyman Vs. The Machine are pretty good.

XXL ’s annual “Freshman 10 ” issue, wherein the hip-hop magazine declares a group of up-and-coming rappers the next big thing, is a major talking point among rap nerds. The discussion begins with predictions about who will be on the list and, with even more passion, preemptive bitch fits about who should be but totally won’t. Then, once the cover of the issue’s revealed and those 10 newbies are formally introduced, the list is picked apart further. If the list lines up to one’s expectations, then the magazine is safe and predictable. If the list doesn’t correspond to predictions, then the issue is bullshit and they just don’t know real hip-hop, man. It’s perverse fun for rap obsessives.

This year, XXL left one of those spots in the hands of the impossible-to-please hip-hop hoi polloi. Readers got to vote for one of 50 MCs listed in an online reader’s poll. The poll closed on Jan. 1, and the results will be revealed in the April issue. The 50 MCs to choose from represent rap’s increasingly fractured though multitudinous 2011 scene. There are guys about to break on the radio like Don Trip and Future, and there are blog rap phenomenons like Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky. There’s even room for the armpit of internet opportunists like white girl hood wannabe and one-hit wonder Kreayshawn, her friend V-Nasty (best known for being white and unapologetically using the word “nigga”), and frat-rap mega-douches Chris Webby and Sam Adams…

Written by Brandon

January 4th, 2012 at 12:01 am

Posted in City Paper

City Paper: Best Of Baltimore 2011

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photo by Frank Hamilton

With a whole bunch of other awesome people, I helped put together this year’s “Best Of Baltimore” for the City Paper. Lots of stuff I co-sign: Future Islands, DDm, DJ Booman, DJ Pierre, Issue producer Schwarz, Ultra Nate’s Deep Sugar party, The fucking Paradox, James Nasty, Atomic Books, Soundgarden, Celebrated Summer, Andy Nelson’s Barbecue, Shapiro’s Cafe…

Written by Brandon

September 21st, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Posted in B.O.B, City Paper

City Paper: “It’s (Not) Over”

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(photo by Josh Sisk)

For the City Paper’s “Big Music Issue” this year, I did a piece on Baltimore’s house music history and what I’m seeing as a slow but steady resurgence in Baltimore at the same time that the radio and mainstream pop grows increasingly obsessed with a derivative of the genre. I spoke to veterans The Basement Boys and Ultra Naté and also, hybrid electro/club/house producer King Tutt about this. Also in the issue is a really awesome “making of a beat” comic strip and a piece by the dude Al Shipley about Baltimore’s Round Robin hip-hop event, which includes Kane Mayfield, of Mania Music Group, one of my favorite Baltimore emcees and someone I’ve covered on the blog a couple of times.

“I think the Black Eyed Peas really started this whole shit,” Teddy Douglas jokes, as he ponders radio’s renewed interest in four-on-the-floor dance. Jay Steinhour, Douglas’ more reserved friend and collaborator of 25 years, wryly grins. It’s a sunny but not too sunny Thursday in late June at a Mount Vernon café and the Basement Boys are talking house music: what it was, what it is, and if what’s popping off on the radio right now even qualifies.

Will.i.Am, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and, well, everybody else’s anthemic dance pop, however you want to label it, does at least have its roots in European dance, and that stuff most certainly stems from the house that came out of Chicago, New York, and other dance-music hubs, including Baltimore…

Written by Brandon

July 12th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

City Paper: “The Next, Next Big Thing.”

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Here’s a thing about moombahton, a dance genre’s that’s been building buzz over the past year or so. There’s now a Mad Decent compilation, Blow Your Head Vol. 2: Dave Nada Presents Moobahton that’s well worth your time and even, money. Nada does a really great job of sequencing the thing as if it were a mix, letting tracks bump into each other so the momentum’s never lost, but allowing each song to still stand alone. You can pretty much just put it on and bliss out to the slow-fast grooves. Munchi’s “Hope,” is song-of-the-year maybe. If only it weren’t originally released last year.

The piece however, is also the second part in a kind of unofficial “trilogy” of pieces I’ve been working out that are about Internet hype. This was part 1, here is part 1.5, and next month’s Spin, out really soon, will have a nice long piece on the topic. Hype is something that needs to be addressed and worked through, I think, especially in the current climate. In this moombahton piece, I wanted to make a really good case for Nada’s creation, while also suggesting that there’s some questionable aspects to its dissemination.

Moombahton immediately leached out to blogs closely connected to Nada. Within days of the EP’s release, DJ Ayres—whose label, T&A, put out the EP—interviewed Nada for The Fader’s blog, repeating the skipping story and instigating buzz. Brooklyn label Fool’s Gold called moombahton “the latest obsession of [their] pal Dave Nada” and put up a mix. “The internet was crucial for its growth and it still is,” Nada says. “‘Born in D.C., bred worldwide’ is the tagline.”

That Nada’s creation even has a tagline is, in part, why it took off. Moombahton arrived fully-formed, the product of a talented, savvy, well-connected DJ. The domino effect of blog coverage immediately took hold of the genre, and once one site declared it important, all the others followed—if they didn’t, they risked appearing out of touch. It helped too that D.C. had a new thing to call its own. Less than a year after the Moombahton EP, the cover of Washington City Paper announced “Our Year in Moombahton.” A bunch of people told a bunch of other people that a new, regional subgenre with a fun origin story and a cool global sound was, like, the thing…

Written by Brandon

June 15th, 2011 at 3:09 am

Posted in City Paper

City Paper: NOISE

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I’ve started contributing close-to-daily posts to Baltimore City Paper’s music blog Noise. If the occasional Baltimore club and hip-hop I post over here interests you, you’ll see a lot more of it over there.

Written by Brandon

January 13th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Posted in City Paper

City Paper: Best Of Baltimore

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(photo by Frank Hamilton)

This year, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the the Baltimore City Paper’s “Best Of Baltimore” issue, which mostly meant hanging out with dudes who write for the paper and watching them hash out a lot of this and then offering my two sense on a couple of categories where I sorta kinda have some authority. So mainly, the club music categories in Arts & Entertainment, but please check out the whole issue.

Written by Brandon

September 23rd, 2010 at 6:51 am

City Paper: Year in Movies, Gomorrah


One more thing. Actual blog content is soon to come. I wrote about Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah for the Baltimore City Paper’s “Year in Film”, it was ranked #2, right after Revanche, whatever that is…

“Sinners in the hands of an angry director. Eurotrash beats apathetically pound over scenes of sitting around and shooting all the same–and no self-justified, too-tan character is spared director Matteo Garrone’s scorched-earth disdain. Not the “just doing my job” money collector, the knuckleheads who think this crime shit’s like Scarface, or the guys in charge, stomachs spilling over too-tight DIESEL jeans. Even those far from Naples aren’t absolved when the web of corruption stretches to Oscar night couture and Camorra cartel investments in rebuilding the World Trade Center. Gomorrah’s biblical pun title is more than earned.”

Also, here’s my ballot:

1. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, United States)
2. Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (Tony Stone, United States)
3. Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone, Italy)
4. Madea Goes to Jail (Tyler Perry, United States)
5. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, United States)
6. Two Lovers (James Grey, United States)
7. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, United States)
8. Good Hair (Jeff Stilson, United States)
9. Tyson (James Toback, United States)
10. Moon (Duncan Jones, United Kingdom)

Written by Brandon

December 9th, 2009 at 5:28 am

Posted in City Paper, movies

City Paper NOISE: "Not With a Bang, Not With a Whimper"

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My review of Saturday night’s ridiculous Big Bang! is up on the Baltimore City Paper’s music blog. There were some pretty big fuck-ups here and there, but none the fault of the talent or the promoters and despite the lights going up early before DJ Pierre got to play, it was still an awesome night. Apparently it’s going to happen next month with King Tutt returning and DJ Pierre finally getting to spin. Also, go cop DJ Pierre’s Vol. 7 mix CD, it’s pretty much all I’ve been listening to lately.

“Booked at the Depot, but moved at the last minute to after-hours spot 1722 a couple of doors down, and then ended early by 1722, this past Saturday’s installment of Senari’s Big Bang was all about keeping everybody, from those in attendance to the talent to promoter Puja Patel herself, off-balance.

At least part of the off-balance feeling, though, was intentional. Unpredictability is one of the most rewarding aspects of many of Patel’s shows, especially past Big Bangs: DJ Booman at the Hexagon earlier this year and now, grab-bag dance party sets from Bmore Electro’s Craig Sopo and Nacey of Nouveau Riche rubbing up against worker-bee club sets from King Tutt and DJ Pierre. The goal is diversity and an aggressive blurring of borders—and what better transition from electro to club than King Tutt?

The only “problem” with this mixing of scenes is that the promise of club music to anybody in Baltimore has the unfortunate effect of pushing everything that isn’t club, no matter how awesome—and indeed, there were moments of pulsing, treble-filled glee in Nacey and Sopo’s sets—off to the side, simply because anything that isn’t club music can’t compete. That’s the whole schtick of Baltimore’s signature music. It sonically wrecks anything and everything in its path.”

Written by Brandon

October 15th, 2009 at 2:23 am

City Paper Books Issue: 27 Writers on 27 Short Stories from 27 Authors

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The Baltimore City Paper’s yearly “Big Books Issue” is out this week, in conjunction with The Baltimore Book Festival and amongst the many very interesting articles–especially this one on the rather negative influence of Joyce’s “The Dead”–there’s a piece called “27 Writers on 27 Short Stories by 27 Authors”. Sprinkled amongst the others writers’ picks is my quick recommendation of the title story from Iceberg Slim’s short-story collection Airtight Willie & Me:

“The titular tale from street-fiction god Iceberg Slim’s only short-story collection, is thoroughly swamped in slang—you’ll need to know what a “jasper” is—and the ugly details and minor victories a life of conning and pimping brings, all wrapped up in a surprisingly neat, though appropriately cruel, O. Henry in the hood surprise ending.”

Written by Brandon

September 23rd, 2009 at 4:08 am