Review: Rapdragons – “Featuring Baltimore”

One of the most pleasant surprises of the year in music for me was the discovery of Rapdragons. Called in along with Sick Weapons to pinch-hit for Donnis when Matt & Kim was in Baltimore in October, the rap duo came out and absolutely crushed it. The Baltimore influence was obvious in the stylings of Greg Ward and Nick Often, and it manifests itself on the duo’s 2010 album Featuring Baltimore.

The awesome thing about the album is that it does exactly what the name suggests: it features Baltimore. Every song is built on top of a track from a notable Baltimore band. The lineup, in Baltimore terms, is extremely prestigious, with acts like Future Islands, Double Dagger, Lower Dens, Weekends, Ponytail and Beach House. Ward and Often throw together wordplay playing off of the artist who they are rapping over and off the song sampled.

To the person not educated on the Baltimore scene, this album is solid because, hey, it’s a good time and the guys from Rapdragons sound like they know what they’re doing. But for the Baltimore music fan, the songs become more. When I saw Rapdragons live, the high points for me were the tracks “Big Dreamers” which samples Future Islands’ beautiful “Little Dreamer” and “I Went to Her (feat. Seven)” which samples Beach House’s “You Came To Me.” The beats and raps it perfectly into these song. Often and Ward aren’t simply rapping over these songs; Often and Ward are integrating themselves into the songs and making themselves part of these tracks.

While “Big Dreamers” and “I Went To Her” are constructed around slower tracks, Rapdragons has no qualms about rapping over heavier stuff. “Camp Everywhere” from Weekends’ “Camp Nowhere,” “Memory” with Dope Body’s “Vision,” and “Manifest” with Double Dagger’s “Camouflage” all feature heavy guitar riffs, and the rapping’s intensity matches the guitars. The songs become more and more infectious after each listen, making this album just a lot of fun.

Obviously, I’d recommend this album to anyone, especially people with a vested interest in the Baltimore music scene. It’s a sweet introduction to both Rapdragons and notable Baltimore bands people should be listening to.

Download Rapdragons’ Featuring Baltimore here for free.

Download the rest of Rapdragons’ discography, including Ten Stories High and Ten Stories Highjacked (Ten Stories High Remix Album) here, also for free.

Here’s the tracklisting for Featuring Baltimore:

01 Early for Work (samples Late for School by Ponytail)
02 Come Harvest (samples Growing Season by Secret Mountains)
03 Plot Twist (samples Shakescene by The Agrarians)
04 Trivial Prey feat. Rebel Conscious (samples Grave Hunter by Mr. Moccasin)
05 Camp Everywhere (samples Camp Nowhere by Weekends)
06 Real Summer (samples False Spring by Arbouretum)
07 Memory (samples Vision by Dope Body)
08 Manifest (samples Camouflage by Double Dagger)
09 Bury (samples Dig by Blood Baby)
10 Rap’n’Roll feat. AK & Hanna Badalova (samples Rock’n’Roll by The Art Department)
11 Slick Rick (samples Eyepatch by Baby Venom)
12 I Went to Her feat. Seven (samples You Came to Me by Beach House)
13 Constant Metropolis (samples Istanbul by Lo Moda)
14 Dragon’s Heart (samples A Dog’s Dick by Lower Dens)
15 Big Dreamers (samples Little Dreamer by Future Islands)
16 Gotta Go feat. Hemlock Ernst (samples Cannot Move by Existencils)

–Daniel

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