Reviews

NAPPYNAPPA Brings Hip-Hop to Babe City Records With Excellent New EP

NappyNappa

Babe City Records has become one of the D.C. rock scene’s most important labels, but recently the imprint has branched out into new territory via its latest signee, 20-year-old emcee NAPPYNAPPA.

The Southeast D.C. native’s newest EP, New Balance, marks Babe City’s first hip-hop release, bringing the rapper’s unique style and flow to an entirely new fanbase. Featuring production from Black Moses, Mr. Dickerson, DJ Earl, Invisibae and Tae Legend, New Balance eschews tired hip-hop trends and presents a new, refreshing sound. 

Lyrically, the EP explores themes ranging from relationships, life in the city, and the struggle to define oneself and finding peace in the face of social and political unrest. You can clearly hear NAPPA’s unwavering resilience in his bars, laced with a stoic sense of determination. This is most evident on the standout track “Hold Me,” where the emcee defiantly proclaims his independence while rising above tired tropes played out by rappers who can’t help but focus on the same few themes.

What really makes the EP stand out, however, is its musicality. The production nods to many themes found in popular trap music like 32nd note hi-hat rolls and verbed-out textures without becoming too jarring. The tracks avoid lulling the listener into a familiar state, each taking its own unique twists and turns into new sonic territory. The selection of samples (including a hot Rhianna chop) evokes the methods of some of hip-hop’s greatest producers.

New Balance is an exciting development in D.C.’s hip-hop scene. NAPPA is certainly a name to keep an eye out for in the coming months–simultaneously charting new paths and keeping multiple torches lit.

Listen to the record below, and catch NAPPA at his EP release show at 453 tonight.