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Rapdragons: Featuring Baltimore

Rapdragons make fun hip-hop out of indie Baltimore

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Featuring Baltimore

(LTD Comp)

If the mainstream rap world is ready for the negative-space drone-rap of “Pretty Boy Swag,” then maybe, just maybe, it’s ready for a pair of MCs dropping swaggering rhymes over, say, the glimmering psychedelia of a Ponytail track. Or how about a Rapdragons MC gushing, “Well this rap thing, I don’t know, man/ I can’t explain why I do it, but my flow can” over a night-drive Secret Mountains folk song? Or, most especially, Beach House’s “You Came to Me” kicked up just a little bit with a muffled, quick beat and rhymes so sharp they shouldn’t work with the stardust ‘n’ Ativan dream of the song—but do.

A big difference between something “weird” such as “Pretty Boy Swag” and Featuring Baltimore is that, well, the Rapdragons pair of Nick Often and Greg Ward are actually rapping over all these songs. And the net result sounds like so much more than the exercise it might come across as on paper: Take 15 different Baltimore indie bands—various subcategories including but not limited to punk-rock (Double Dagger, Dope Body), blistering psych-folk (Arbouretum), and fuzzy pop-punk (Weekends)—and turn them into rap songs. More often than not, it works. A couple of cuts come across as a little forced (such as the guitar solos/jamming in the Arbouretum track, “Real Summer”) but more often it’s clever and wicked fun. It’s worth mentioning that some part of that is personality: Ward and Often just sound like they’re having the best time ever with this. It’s catching.

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