Local spin: Phil Adé’s The Letterman

Despite being relatively new to the game, Phil Adé’s second mixtape efffort, “The Letterman” (click to download) is a steady improvement over his first disc, the catchy “Starting On JV.” Mixed by DJ Don Cannon (CANNON, Cannon, cannon…), the beats are more polished, the guest appearances (Raekwon?)  more impressive and his flows more confident. An instant head-nodder; the production is a good match to Adé’s flow.

Phil Adé's The Letterman.

Phil Adé's The Letterman.

Adé, of New Carrollton/Silver Spring, has crossover appeal because he sings as well as raps. His choruses are catchy, his voice has a bit of range (think Phonte from Little Brother/Foreign Exchange) and he does not push a gangsta persona. He comes off as as true to himself and tells his story with honesty and emotion.

Most comfortable (or maybe its just my old-school preferences) over boom-bap or go-go inflected beats, like the disc’s “Paid In Full” or “Tipsy Mood,” Adé’s punchline game is still developing:

No fill-ins, it’s all business/I’m on/the hip-hop LeBron/and you are all witness – Like Dat

But as he continues to produce music, Adé will become more confident in his own shoes. His strength right now is introspection and party jams, but the battle raps are steadily improving. I could do without the techno influence, but that appeals to plenty of locals, especially pop fans and those up 95 towards the land of K-Swift.

Adé benefits from a Raheem cosign and slick production, but he can stand on his own two. “The Letterman” will appeal most heavily to fans of Drake, Little Brother and Raheem. Lots of DMV references throughout; not a bad choice for a long Metro ride.

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