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Singles Mixer: Rome Cee, TT the Artist

The virtue of a king and she’s doing everything right

Photo: Christopher Myers, License: N/A, Created: 2011:07:31 12:35:32

Christopher Myers

Photo:, License: N/A

Rome Cee “Virtue” “The virtue of a king is more important than the commercials on the screen/ You become a target when you first come on the scene,” raps Rome Cee on one of the refrains here, summarizing well enough the anxiety of being a new guy in a hip-hop scene that can feel a bit like a tank full of sharks. The MC’s had a pretty great year with music, representing a big push into and beyond that scene, dropping a pair of releases signifying that he was not only gonna be taking the scene on, but doing it with something totally different: maturity, humility, and, yeah, virtue. (The cut’s first three words are “truth, justice, honor,” actually.) You should be able to tell well enough what’s at the heart of Rome’s lyricism via the above—being the better man, largely—and it’s delivered in an easy yet just a little barbed flow. But the beat’s as conciliatory, old-school bass delivered in licks, a bit of atmospheric soul sampling, and lit up by a sharp snare, cutting out at just the right moment, mimicking a DJ’s fader cut in a club.

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 TT the Artist “She Rockin’” At first glance, this might seem like Rye Rye 2.0: young female Baltimore rapper with a sprightly, fun flow and a bright, neon outlook paired with a hot cream-of club producer. In the very beginning that was Blaqstarr for Rye Rye, in the by-now historic “Shake it to the Ground,” and in this case it’s Murder Mark, who’s pretty much owning club music right now. (Paging The Fader.) Which all comes across as a tad dismissive, I worry, as if dismissal’s even an option now. TT is already well established at this point: She runs a clothing line, hosts a show on the CW, and mentors/teaches at a pair of nonprofits. You could even say that she’s doing everything right: crossing the city’s cultural boundaries, working for the community, establishing a mini-empire in a rap scene that would seem to demand one for success.

Oh yeah, the song: Club and rap together’s still a (surprisingly) recent trend, but by now it’s not as remarkable as it was when 410 Pharaohs dropped a whole disc of it. That said, you can still tell a flow that’s just made for a club beat, that can bounce along with it, fit inside of a club beat’s breaks. That beat here is fairly pared back, spiked mainly with a quick strand of synth and not much else, letting you know this is fully TT’s track. Also, having a bit of self-awareness always helps, as she raps: “I don’t have to rap/ I could sing on you/ movin’ on up, going ‘Paper Planes’ on you.” Dedicated club observers will note that this track’s been out for a good while now, but TT seems to be putting a new push behind it, complete with a graffiti- and dancing-filled video.

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