Various Artists: Marketing And Distribution Volume 1
With so many mixtapes flooding the market full of original lyrics over the same damn beats, it's a welcome change of pace when a local hip-hop label actually gets its MCs in the studio with some equally hungry producers. IMP Records (formerly Imperial Records) is one of the only crews in Baltimore that appears to realize this, and its new compilation Marketing and Distribution Volume 1, much like last year's Operation: Shutdown, is as much a showcase for the label's stable of producers as for the marquee names, rappers Bless, Young Dip, and LS. Producers Hitman and Pa'Shell bring their own twist on the soul sample-filled beats that have gone in and out of vogue in recent years, while Sownd Beats brings a uniquely off-kilter sensibility to tracks such as "Doing Me," which warps LS's voice into a strangely metallic tone.
Although Bless and LS get most of the best beats from those producers on Marketing, it's Young Dip who is the most consistent standout aside from Mullyman's show-stealing guest appearance on "Settle Down," yet another hip-hop-as-a-woman metaphor that we've heard a hundred times since Common's "I Used to Love H.E.R." Dip sounds a little like Joe Budden if he'd taken some downers and started slurring his words more, but his deep voice and commanding delivery make his lyrics resonate nonetheless. Young Dip's most memorable song to date, "D.T.T.W.C."-a track from his solo mixtape You See Me? that hilariously proclaimed "death to the wallet chain" in response to the "rock star" trend among many rappers-isn't featured here. But on Marketing highlight "Understand," Dip shows the vulnerable side of every aspiring rapper, insecure about the possibility that platinum dreams may never be realized, as he shrugs, "I had to get a job 'cause rap ain't shit/ that job takes away from my time to spit," in frustration. The odds aren't stacked in his favor, just like they aren't for just about any local rapper, but something about the resolve in Young Dip's voice makes you think that won't stop him from trying.