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Big Music Feature

Baltimore Hip-Hop Trading Cards

By Al Shipley, Jason Torres and Jess Harvell; Illustrations by Alex Fine | Posted 7/19/2006

Whether you're a longtime head or brand new to the game, Baltimore hip-hop can be a confusing scene. Get yourself up to speed with City Paper's official Baltimore Hip-Hop Trading Cards™®©, and then swap 'em with your friends to form your own crews and super-groups.

Mullyman
It's me again, the same kid from Bentalou and Riggs
Used to stay catchin' drama under Lafayette Bridge
Food stamps help us keep a little food in the fridge
Ribs touchin' like lovers so you know what I did
Baltimore to the heart, wanted more from the start
Tryin' to fix broken promises 'til it tore me apart

--"Buck on 'Em"

Real Name: Kevin Muldrow
Year of Debut: 2004
Pick Hit: Mullymania (Major League Unlimited, 2005)
Crew: Major League Unlimited
Smash Single: "Home of da Realest" featuring Memphis Bleek
Without a deal, Mullyman has nonetheless managed to become perhaps Baltimore's most visible MC outside of town, appearing in the pages of XXL, The Source, Blender, and The Fader.

Labtekwon
Give my regards to Osiris in your trip to the land of the dead
God sun fire dismisses eclipses, lifts myths from your head
Purge, submerge, re-emerge shining nerve endings in the spine
Curve on my staff, similar to vines.

--"Wasteland"

Real Name: Omar Akbar Young
Year of Debut: 1993
Pick Hit: Song of the Sovereign (Mush, 2001)
Crew: Ankhba
Smash Single: "Uhnnn Huhnnn"
Probably B-more's longest-running MC, Labtekwon is also the consummate outsider, recording dense albums of Afro-cosmic wordplay, sexual innuendo, and complex metaphors for indie hip-hop labels like Mush, as well as recently cutting club tracks like "Sex Machine."

Huli Shallone
You cowards scared of us
We're more than murderous
I'll hunt your ass down cut your tongue out your mouth, ho
I lay back getting head puffing on hydro
Mr. Tough Guy running soon as the Tech blow

--"Smooth Criminal"

Year of Debut: 1999 (with Nature's Problem)
Pick Hit: It's My Turn (Hit 'Em Hard Records, 2005)
Crew: Nature's Problem
Smash Single: "For My Shorty"
Probably Baltimore's most mysterious MC, the guarded Huli keeps a low profile and grants few interviews. He's collaborated with Mannie Fresh on the single "Makin' Moves" and with Lil Flip on two songs from Nature's Problem's 2002 album Welcome to Baltimore.

Bossman
No matter how you look at it, man, we all winners
Like 'Melo in the league and he knockin' down jump shots
Got your degree and you ain't have to pump rock
Or you like me on the beat spittin' dumb hot

--"I Did It"

Real Name: Travis Holifield
Year of Debut: 2004
Pick Hit: Law and Order (Double Down Ent/1Up Productions, 2004)
Crew: N.E.K. (North East Kings)
Smash Single: "Oh! (B-more Anthem)"
Though now signed to Virgin Records for megabucks, Bossman drove a Baltimore cab to make ends meet before becoming a rapper.

Comp
My best friend's little sister's
diagnosed with AIDS
Right across the street from where
the nigga got raised
Now every time I see her I wanna
hug her and cry
I feel sorry for the niggas
that's gonna fuck her and die
And she only 14 and three months pregnant
And what about that baby, man,
you can forget it
--"B-more Shit"

Crew: Bang-A-Rang Gang
Real Name: Jordan McElveen
Year of Debut: 2002
Pick Hit: Independence Day (Bang-A-Rang, 2006)
Smash Single: "Harder"
Comp was signed to Def Jam for three years and had little to show for it other than an appearance on a Ghostface cut and a few soundtracks before parting ways with the company last year.

Tha Plague
Pump in the trunk
Niggas carry double pipe heat
Rip ya doors off
Blow a hole through ya wifey
Like blow, that's what I do with the shotty
They'll have her funeral
When they find the rest of her body

-- "White Meat"

Members: Symphony, Nina Ross, Larceny
Year of Debut: 2005
Pick Hit: Hit Villainz tha Mixtape (2005)
Crew: Bang-A-Rang Gang
Smash Single: "Rep Ya Set"
In its short history, gully all-female trio tha Plague has been through many transformations, such as the amicable departure a few years ago of founding member Rev, who recently passed away.

B. Rich
See, I'm throwin' W's
I'm screamin' 80 dimes, I swear to God it's goin' down
I don't remember where I parked, and I'm stuck in town
One night in Baltimore
I bet ya never leave
My boy I know I can't help it but to love these streets

--"Whoa Now"

Real Name: Brian Rich
Year of Debut: 2002
Pick Hit: 80 Dimes (Atlantic, 2002)
Crew: 80 Dimes
Smash Single: "Whoa Now"
One of the first Charm City rappers to gain mainstream attention through his nationwide hit "Whoa Now," B. Rich now lives in Atlanta but continues to rep B-more on new releases like this year's Born Rich.

Ms. Stress
I spit acid, call me heavy-duty
I dare you to try to move me
I bring the type of heat that you find in Jacuzzis
And your boys only heard me when I spit lukewarm
Stress not X-Men but I can carry the storm
You think you better? Well I dare you to try
'Cuz I helped you piece all your rhymes together
Call me CSI

--"Who Am I (Madame of Murderland)"

Real Name: Tekia Johnson
Year of Debut: 2006
Pick Hit: Surviving Life (2006)
Smash Single: "Who Am I (Madame of Murderland)"
Winner of 88.9's Strictly Hip-Hop show's Madame of Murderland, Ms. Stress has been a vicious battle rapper, able to cut men and women alike, for almost a decade, as proven when she retired undefeated from both 92Q and X105.7's freestyle battles.

Ogun
What y'all know about spendin' your last cent on gas
And running straight through that toll without an EZ Pass
Oodles of Noodles and that's it, water from faucet
Searchin' newspapers for bargains
Every dime I get I put it back into my dream
My people say I'm crazy yeah they think I'm insane

--"My Life"

Real Name: Kevin Beasley
Year of Debut: 2003
Pick Hit: Real On Purpose (ROP, 2005)
Crew: Gritty Gang
Smash Single: "When I'm in the Room"
A uniter, not a divider, Ogun may be the most connected and universally respected MC in the city, and he's used his networking skills to unite all-star projects like his Movement mixtapes and the recent B-more version of Busta Rhymes' "New York Shit." He's also an accomplished martial artist.

ShellBe RAW
Dudes forever scheme, so I be on some nigga shit
"What you mean?"
I get my nut and I leave
Never show my hand, got tricks up my sleeve
Behind the scenes I do shit you won't believe
--"Damn Shellz"

Real Name: D'lonna Marie Willis
Year of Debut: 2004
Pick Hit: The Soundtrack (2006)
Crew: 360
Smash Single: "RAW"
Originally from Boston, ShellBe says she was "born" as an MC in Baltimore, as she didn't start rhyming until 2004.

Tim Trees
I mean, I love my city
But this is a cruddy ass town

--"Green Eyes"

Real Name: Wayne Jones III
Year of Debut: 2000
Pick Hit: Dalton, Vol. 1 (Bdamore Records, 2001)
Smash Single: "Bank Roll"
Trees pushed more than 15,000 copies of Dalton, Vol. 1 independently on the back of the Rod Lee-produced smash "Bank Roll," one of the first records to merge Baltimore club music with hip-hop.

Skarr Akbar
I'm committed to the streets, some say I'm dead wrong
'Cause I come to your funeral singin' a love song
Like "he was my man . . . psyche!"
Leave him in the dark dirt
Your boys will rock your face on a rest in peace T-shirt
Who said that I ain't nice, let's get things right
I'm like Joe Jackson 'cause I'm known to bruise up mics

--"Live @ 105.7 Freestyle"

Real Name: Stephen Tatum
Year of Debut: 1998
Pick Hit: Independence Day (Bang-A-Rang, 2006)
Crew: The Arabz
Smash Single: "N.E.W.S."
As well as being a rapper, Skarr is an accomplished clothing and graphic designer, producer, and filmmaker. He also wants to sky dive.

D.O.G.
In case we in an altercation
I'll alter your face in an awful vacation

--"Stay Fly" Freestyle

Real Name: unavailable as of press time
Year of Debut: 2005
Pick Hit: Champagne Dreams (Invisible Set Entertainment, 2006)
Crew: Invisible Set
Smash Single: "Ryda Gyrl"
The young turk D.O.G. roared out of nowhere this year to produce 2006's biggest local hit, "Ryda Gyrl." Time will tell if he can match the single's hype.

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Tags: baltimore hip hop

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