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Quarantine Diaries: Rappers & Collaborators

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Rituals and systems have been the consistent mechanism that help me pass time during quarantine. In my old life, pre-corona, I used to put concert and show dates on my calendar, sometimes many months in advance.

There is nothing like the ritual of attending a show. I’ve written before about The Crown and my love for that venue. It has since reopened, and although they have not restarted their full calendar of music performances, they have put live comedy shows and short DJ sets on the calendar. (These events are ticketed and require RSVPs in order to maintain social distancing and venue capacity guidelines.) There have also been a recent flutter of events at various venues across the city such as at the Ynot Lot and Hotel Revival.

I’m afraid for so many of the performance/art venues in the city. This time away from my favorite and most frequented venues has taught me not to take for granted the ritual of concert-going ever again. I hope that if we do see spaces close, new ones will be built—hopefully more DIY and artist-run spaces, especially ones that are run by Black and queer artists in the city. 

Pre-corona I also often complained about how I didn’t have time to listen to new music. This forced time away has allowed me to slow down and pick up projects that I might have missed in the past. I have been listening to 4KMicheal’s “Forgive Me, I Am Alive” on repeat this year. Blasting it in my apartment has helped me revisit the rush of adrenaline I felt when I saw him perform last year. 

Digital events have felt hollow to me. The luxury of the in-person experience of being at a concert is spiritual and can’t be replicated. I’m constantly negotiating between my desire to go out and my awareness of the silent threat of coronavirus. I’m trying to wait as long as I can to ensure my first time back at a show isn’t anticlimactic. 

This Quarantine Diaries features eight Baltimore rappers/musicians who have released new projects, albums, and EPs since quarantine began. As winter slowly approaches and we are likely to spend more time inside, check out each of these artists’ projects and welcome some of their fire and creativity into your home. Stream their music, follow their social media, and take care of yourselves. And although the feeling of being in a crowd at a concert cannot be replicated, I hope that reading the words and listening to the projects of these artists helps you feel some semblance of that adrenaline and joy. 

I’m planning on taking a break from Quarantine Diaries as I focus more on the Connect+Collect digital window gallery. I wanted to end this series strongly, and I think that featuring these eight artists and their recently released projects was the perfect way to do so. Each artist is phenomenal, dynamic, and talented and I truly cannot wait until I can see them in concert hopefully in 2021. See y’all out there post-quarantine! 

 

Chris Cassius

Chris Cassius, Rapper/Artist
IG: @Chris_Cassius
Twitter: @chris_cassius
Web: chriscassius.com, Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music

What is the name of your newly released project?

My most recent body of work is titled 6Tape and it’s available exclusively on Bandcamp.

How long did you spend working on it?

I didn’t plan to make 6Tape originally so it was made over the span of about one year. 6Tape is made up of songs that I kinda made sporadically but the most recent tracks were made during quarantine in the midst of my depression. The intro, “Baby Steps,” featuring Scotty Banx and produced by Bobby Woody, was made during peak depression in April.

Who are the other people involved with the project?

6Tape has a lot of local talent on it and it’s a blessing that I can reach out and work with these people. I have features from Scotty Banx, Miss Kam, La’matic, Butch Dawson, and T. Ali. I have production from Bobby Woody, Scotty Banx, Butch Dawson, Xantanaa, Descentive, and Wavesondakeys.

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with? 

Currently I live in Parkville, Maryland. Quiet area, not too much commotion, I spent my quarantine with my mother, brother, and girlfriend mainly. ALSO MY DOG COOPER!

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians, that our readers should know about?

Miss Kam – Birthday Pack
T. Ali – Since We’re Being Honest
Zadia – Vacants
Randi Withani – Portfolio
James K. Fonlon – DONT.TRUST.ANYBODY
Joey Bricks – Brick by Brick

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects?

I’m currently working on a project titled “6Tape Tew : Angels Over East.”

 

Chris Cassius

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore?

I went to see Joey Badass years ago at Soundstage! And it was my favorite concert ever. It actually was my very first. I was so amazed to see such a lyrical artist get so much love especially from women! Joey has bras thrown at him lol. Flatbush Zombies passed blunts to the crowd. It was crazy.

What is your favorite song of all time?

You asked for one but I’m going to give four because I can’t choose lol.
1. Mark Morrison – “Return of the Mack”
2. Don Trip – “Allen Iverson”
3. Jeezy – “J.E.E.Z.Y”
4. Lil Wayne – “Cannon”

Who are your biggest musical influences?

My musical influences are:
1. Jay Z
2. Drake
3. Jeezy & Boosie

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine is over? What will you do, with great joy, when you are allowed to?

I look forward to hanging out with my friends the most during this quarantine. Great things just keep happening to us and I just love the energy.

What have you been listening to the most lately?

The one person I’ve listened to more than myself during all this is Eric Thomas, the hiphop preacher. He truly has gotten me through these last few months. He is so motivational and just speaks strength, it’s really helped me.

 

 

Baby Kahlo

Kahlo “Baby Kahlo” Brannon, Rapper
IG: @_babykahlo
Web: Spotify, Soundcloud 

What is the name of your newly released project?

Debut EP, Queen of Swords.

How long did you spend working on it?

I spent at least two years developing what became my debut EP.

Who are the other people who are a part of the project?

Collaborators: John Tyler on engineering and production of tracks 1 and 4 (“Talk My $hit” and “Toxic”), Baltimore producer Sanchezbby produced track 2 (“Money Boo”), Karma Kurijuana and Evelyn Duvall were featured on “Money Boo.” 

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with? 

I live in West Baltimore city! I just moved from Edmondson Village to my first place to myself in Park Heights. I love West Baltimore. My home is cute and cozy! I’ve been quarantined with my bae and my puppy and that’s been super fun. 

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians, that our readers should know about?

Three artists you guys should know about is John Tyler, Afrovelvet, and La’Matic!!! All amazing artists from Baltimore, MD. 

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects?

I recently dropped all of my shows for the remainder of 2020. This is flu season and I need to remain proactive as I am high risk due to already having severe asthma. I had an outdoor show a week ago and started feeling under the weather and that led me to this decision. I just cannot risk my health. This gives me more time to work on my second EP that will be released very soon! 

 

Baby Kahlo

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore?

The best concert I’ve ever been to in Baltimore was Jpegmafia’s Boiler Room show in 2019! Not only did I get to watch, I got to perform on stage as well! That was like my first REAL rock/punk/alt show, real moshpits, real rockstar fans, it was just crazy and absolutely amazing! People were literally falling from the sky! They were crazy but it was a good crazy! I just remember screaming all night because I couldn’t believe my eyes and I just loved the energy. 

What is your favorite song of all time?

My favorite song of all time is Anita Baker – “Angel” and Willow Smith ft. SZA – “9.” 

Who are your biggest musical influences?

My biggest musical influences would most likely be Tupac and DMX. Baltimore club music as a whole plays a big part in my sound and I realize that the more I create and become more of myself. It’s a part of me. I listened to so much Baltimore Club growing up. My dad is a well-known Baltimore Club DJ, DJ Kenny B, and so is my uncle, DJ Diamond K, so it’s stuck in my DNA. 

What do you look forward to most every day under quarantine?

What I look forward to every day of quarantine is a second chance. We have a lot of free time. After I got adjusted to this new norm of social distancing I truly took this time to become the best version of me. I have time to make sure I’m okay whereas before my life was on the go. I know I was neglecting my personal needs so it’s been a blessing in disguise. 

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine is over? What will you do, with great joy, when you are allowed to?

When quarantine is over I look forward to finally performing at SXSW music festival and Rolling Loud. I missed my 2020 SXSW performance because they canceled the festival due to the pandemic. I’ve done several music festivals already, including A3C music festival in Atlanta, and I know many more festivals are coming my way. Festival performances are my favorite performances because of the fun and networking. 

 

 

Eze Jackson

Eze Jackson, Rapper/Songwriter
IG: @ezewriter
Twitter: @ezewriter
Web:
Bandcamp, Spotify

What is the name of your newly released project?

GOALS.

How long did you spend working on it?

About six months.

Who are the other people who are a part of the project?

It is produced by Station North Sound. Apex Tha Genius appears on “Finer Trees.” Tierra Nicole Strickland, Ben Frock and Tracie Jiggetts appear on “Nights Like These.”

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with? 

I live in an artists live/work space called The Compound. It’s in the Midway/Cecil/Kirk neighborhood. My roommates and I have been quarantining together since March. We range in age, have two cats, one dog, and my 9-year-old daughter. 

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians, that our readers should know about? 

Mike Evenn, Y1, and Wifty Bangura

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects? 

I started my own record label, EPIC FAM. We will be showcasing our artists on October 22 at Keystone Korner.

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore? 

Too many to name but my most memorable one is probably a cross between Skarr Akbar‘s album release show for Fear, Love and Respect and Butch Dawson, Kotic Couture, and JPEGmafia. Both shows were at The Ottobar.

 

Eze Jackson

What is your favorite song of all time? 

Nas – “Purple”

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Black Thought, Marvin Gaye, and Gucci Mane. On any given day, I could be an iteration of either of these three brothers. 

What do you look forward to most every day under quarantine? 

Evening drinking and daytime naps. 

What has been most difficult for you to adjust to?

Not doing shows and not touring. The majority of my adulthood has been dedicated to music. Shows and touring were a huge part of that. 

What have you been listening to the most, other than your own work? 

GuapDad 4000 and City Girls

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine is over? What will you do, with great joy, when you are allowed to? 

SHOWS. EPIC ASS SHOWS and a West Coast tour and hugging my Aunt Kitty. 

 

 

Infinity Knives

Tariq Ravelomanana (Infinity Knives), Musician
IG: @infinityknives
Web: Bandcamp 

What is the name of your newly released project?

Rhino XXL, LORIS.

How long did you spend working on it?

About seven to eight months for Rhino and for LORIS I spent about four years.

Who are the other people who are a part of the project?

Rhino XXL was with my right-hand man and rapper Brian Ennals. LORIS is with singer Randi Withani and drummer David Jacober.

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with?

I bounce back between Charles Village, Hoes Heights, and Medfield. My grandma lives in Medfield and my best friend lives in Hoes Heights. Mostly I stay with my partner in a beautiful apartment in Charles Village—it’s very big with lots of windows, also my dog whom I love very much.

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians that our readers should know about? 

Haven’t kept up with much music honestly, but if you’re feeling down I highly suggest reading “Senlin Ascends.” It’s a story about adventure and friendship in a very unique and vivid world. Also watch Lodge 49 on AMC, because we need a little magical realism.

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects? 

I was recently signed to the UK record label Phantom Limb and they’re remastering and re-releasing Dear, Sudan early next year! 

 

Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore?

Very long ago when I was 18, I saw a band called Boat Water play in a small crowded basement—it was so profound. I miss warehouse and basement shows around the city. I actually ended up joining them many years later for a few shows.

What is your favorite song of all time?

Hard question, but if I had to choose: “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Elton John would be in my top 10s. A close second is “The Desperate Ones” by the queen herself Nina Simone.

Who are your biggest musical influences? 

Pink Floyd, Sparklehorse and 2Pac!!

What have you been listening to the most?

Most definitely Pink Floyd or Sparklehorse.

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine is over? What will you do, with great joy, when you are allowed to?

Hopefully get out and tour! I had a nice European tour lined up 🙁

 

 

Brian Ennals, Writer of Good Raps
IG: @brianennals
Web: YouTube

What is the name of your newly released project?

Rhino XXL

How long did you spend working on it?

From start to finish about six months, but the majority of the project was written/recorded in the two-month period right before we released it on July 3. 

Who are the other people who are a part of the project?

The entire album was the brainchild of the amazing producer Infinity Knives, who is also my son. We have the amazing Randi Withani, Kotic Couture, and RoVo Monty providing additional vocals and David Jacober and Drew Scott with additional production.

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with? 

I actually live in Glen Burnie (I’m from Severn, Anne Arundel County). But I’ve been quarantining with my girlfriend in Hampden (she’s Black though, lol), her dog Santana, and our newborn child.

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians, that our readers should know about? 

Well, Randi just dropped an amazing EP right after Rhino came out, and she and Infinity Knives (along with David Jacober) just released their long-awaited group project Loris (formerly Infinity Knives and Randi). David actually just dropped a new solo album as well and it’s marimba-based and you shouldn’t need more of a reason to listen to it than that. Kotic also just dropped a really amazing song/video.

 

Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects?

I’m in the very early stages of my next album. Me and Infinity Knives, along with my other go-to producer/partner Alpha Davis, are just kind of spitballing ideas right now, but the working title is “Disappointed…but not Surprised.” No upcoming shows, because that would be insane right now. But we’re praying things get better asap.

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore?

Ruff Ryders/Cash Money in the Baltimore Arena. That probably dates me a little bit, but that shit was incredible. Everybody was peaking, the energy was insane. It’s also the Blackest rap show I’ve ever been to. Ever been to a Roots concert? The exact opposite of that crowd. Saw an amazing Roots show in the city back in like ’08 tho, I’m just saying.

What is your favorite song of all time?

Well, this changes hourly, but right now with a firearm to my head I would say Soul 4 Real’s “Candy Rain.” It’s a perfect song from a perfect era.

Who are your biggest musical influences? 

Stevie Wonder and Canibus.

What has been most difficult for you to adjust to? 

Honestly, not much. I’m an actual introvert. So you’d be surprised at how much my day to day life hasn’t changed.

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine is over? What will you do, with great joy, when you are allowed to?

Going to the movies would be a strong number 1, but is that really going to happen? I think movies might be dead, which is sad as fuck. So I’ll have to say doing drugs with other people. I’m solitary, but drugs are legit one of the few things that are more fun in a group. Movies? Go solo. Museum? Go solo. But drugs? Get a big group of the homies and enjoy each other’s (soon to be irritating) company.

 

 

Logicoma

Brennan Diggs (Logicoma)
IG: @logicoma.mov
Twitter: @Logicomasounds
Web: Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube

What is the name of your newly released project?

Coming To America, a collaborative project between myself and Stoop Baby Mo.

How long did you spend working on it?

About four months.

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with?

I live on Barclay. Sort of Charles Village, sort of Station North. I’m living with the love of my life (Lindsey, 25) and a dog and cat who are more famous than me (Baby Boy and Samson).

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians, that our readers should know about?

I’m really enjoying Drew Scott’s recent project Nocturnes. I’m excited to hear Elon’s (:3lon) newest upcoming project, EDEN. I also really like the music videos Toyomansi‘s been dropping recently. 

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects?

So as far as what I can talk about, I have a few collabs coming up with some Baltimore artists. I’m also already working on the direction of the next album by Stoop Baby and I.

 

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore?

My favorite show I’ve attended in Baltimore was probably seeing one of my favorite rappers, Black Kray, perform at The Crown in 2018 I believe.

What is your favorite song of all time?

“Roberta Flack” by Flying Lotus off his second album, Los Angeles.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

I think I draw a lot of inspiration from Clams Casino, Mexidro, Black Kray, and Flying Lotus.

What have you been listening to the most lately?

I’ve been listening to a lot of instrumentals lately. Listening to them is a good way to get me inspired to make my own. I’ve really been into UK Drill beats. I find the beat composition really interesting even though I’m not necessarily into the genre all that much.

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine is over? What will you do, with great joy, when you are allowed to?

Once the quarantine is over I’d like to just keep the momentum going. I’m not fully sure if I want to return to the DJ world or at least at the frequency I was doing it.

 

 

Stoop Baby Mo

Stoop Baby Mo, Rapper/Underground Afro Pop Legend/Retired Ice Cold Water Salesman
IG: @stoopbabymo
Web: YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music

What is the name of your newly released project?

The name of the project I recently released is called Coming to America. The album is about my experiences in America from the perspective of a kid who was the first American citizen in his family. There’s tales of selling fake drugs across Baltimore college campuses, booty worshiping, internet scamming, and so much more. 

Who are the other people who are a part of the project?

One of my greatest friends I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, Logicoma was the only person I worked with on the project. He engineered, produced, mixed and mastered everything on it. I am so lucky to have him around.

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with? 

I live in a Mount Vernon building that is nicknamed adult Chuck E Cheese. There are a lot of cool amenities and, unfortunately, also a lot of people that ruin it for everyone else. I felt like a lot of people were tryna use me for my crib this summer, but I cut that shit off. Shouts out to my beautiful guardian angel queens working security in the lobby. 

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians, that our readers should know about?

Logicoma, JaySwann, Randi Withani

 

Stoop Baby Mo

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects?

Look out for Coming 2 America part 2 (Prince Hakim With da lean)

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore?

The best concert I’ve seen was Juicy J at Baltimore’s finest jazz bar, Keystone Korner. 

What is your favorite song of all time?

My favorite song of all time is “Booty Touch” but shouts out to the Kidz Bop version of Gucci Mane – “Freaky Girl.”

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Good artists borrow, great artists steal. I stole everything from Adam Sandler. 

What do you look forward to most every day under quarantine?

During quarantine I look forward to filing my webcert every week and spending free government money.

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine is over? What will you do, with great joy, when you are allowed to?

When quarantine is over I might pick the ice cold water hustle back up and come out of retirement. 

 

 

Bailey Straughn

Bailey Straughn
IG: @ba.ley_
Web: Bandcamp

What is the name of your newly released project?

Onedayatatime. I just dropped the single/video “Damnsam,” shot by Joseph “Rico” Connolly (@ricosfilm). It’s a pretty melancholy experience much like the first half of the album, I don’t want to say too much though because my music needs to stand on its own (headass).

How long did you spend working on it?

I started working on the project beginning of March.

Who are the other people who are a part of the project?

I got beats from Fonlon, Notorious Nick, Breeze, JaySwann, Sam Truth, argov, and a few YouTube type beats thrown in for good measure. This is the first project I’ve made with features so after careful consideration I chose my guy BBE Chinaman out of DC, Vlad & Fonlon from 3Side, and BillCarlBoomer from Just Walk. Luke Herold mixed the whole thing and @trumannali/@ricosfilm/@divblumheron all collectively assisted with the art direction of the project.

Where do you live? Who are you quarantining with? 

I live in Glen Burnie and commute to Baltimore for work and music. I’ve quarantined with my mom because I’m a failure and still live with her.

 

What are three other projects, artists, albums, musicians, that our readers should know about?

Fonlon – DTA, JaySwann – Houseplants. M. T. Hadley (artist)

Do you have any upcoming shows/projects?

Not booked because of quarantine :/….. As for projects I’m dropping this one (Onedayatatime.) then taking some time to myself in hopes of figuring out what my purpose is… if it even is music.

What is the best concert/show you have ever been to in Baltimore?

Jpegmafia Boiler Room @ 8×10… also Toyomansi through this crazy show. 

What is your favorite song of all time?

“Nowhere2go” – Earl Sweatshirt

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Earl Sweatshirt, Lucki, Tierra Whack, Cdot Honcho & MIKE. (I would say James Blake but I can’t sing like that man he just makes me wanna be vulnerable.) 

What have you been listening to the most during quarantine?

A lot of old jazz/soul… Marvin Gaye, Coltrane, Nina Simone, Sun Ra, Stevie Wonder. I love Westside Gunn… James Blake… obviously Earl. Harry Styles go crazy too, we can’t gloss over that. Lastly Mustafa deserves everyone’s attention, he needs to make more music post haste. 

What are you looking forward to after quarantine is over?

Concerts, sporting events, I know it sounds ungrateful but I hate these masks, recharging my social meter because now I don’t speak to anybody… family included. I guess all in all this pandemic will yield some positives too but I’m at the end of my rope mentally ahahaaa.. look out for Onedayatime. It might be out while you’re reading this who knows ya know? *shrugs* 

 

 

Images courtesy of the artists.

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