SOUNDS LIKE: Conscious 90s rap from a rapper born in the 90s.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: As it tends to do every decade, rap's gotten incredibly staid and rather boring again. Sex, money and mayhem rule the pop-rap roost, leaving most well-meaning and intellectual content on the indie outskirts. However, rising young Washington, DC performer Ras Nebyu (aka Ras Griffin III, the starting quarterback for the Washington Slizzards, aka Thunder Man, aka the "Uptown Ethiopian Tupac") on the effortlessly future-forward "Futuristic Black Man" paints a bold picture of the genre's most ideal future.
Living in Washington, DC in the shadow of twin Maybach Music Group giants Wale and Fat Trel isn't the easiest place in which to live and develop a less-than-ersatz or ratchet take on rap music. Being an iconoclast in these surroundings is a difficult road, yet one taken by the barely post-teen artist. When Nebyu states that he's "Not a crab in a barrel / but I'm ocean swimming," he's acting in direct defiance to the "crabs in a barrel" notion of fellow DC rappers being willing to openly express displeasure at the success of their compatriots, while at the same time doing minimal work themselves to develop their own craft.
For some time, the push was for DC to develop its own sustainable space within the rap industry. Now, with that secured, "Futuristic Black Man" is the official moment of noticeable sea change in the Nation's Capital and in being a sign that the future is now in Washington, DC, it's worth a listen.