Last week, Maryland artist Goldlink accused Philly artist Lil Uzi Vert of using the “DMV flow” on his vibrant “Free Uzi” record. The flow in question is the melodic avalanche of triplet bars Uzi used as he kicked into the heart of his verses. It was popularized in part by PG County, Maryland artists like Shabazz PBG, Roc Nation signee Q Da Fool, and the currently incarcerated Big Flock. (It’s also worth noting that New Jersey-born rapper Hoodrich Pablo Juan uses a similar cadence on many records.)
It’s likely Uzi was just paying homage to an area he has love for. He did gloat that “when I’m in DC they call me Moe” on 2016’s “Grab The Wheel,” and recently collaborated with Shabazz on last year’s “Shells” record.
While one could debate the merits of flow ownership all day, the true wonder is that young artists in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area popularly known as the “DMV” even have a flow that’s unmistakable to the region. Though the term “DMV” refers to the immediate DC metropolitan area to locals (if you can’t take the DC Metro there, you aren’t in the DMV), the national interpretation of the term factors in Baltimore, which boasts artists like Young Moose who is also making noise for the region.
Just a decade ago, when Wale was an XXL Freshman, and other early 2010s forebearers like Shy Glizzy and Fat Trel hadn’t yet broken through nationally, the DMV’s hip-hop scene was locally confined. But the successes of pioneering artists such as Wale, Glizzy, Trel, and Tabi Bonney, which coincided with the decline of the area’s popular Go-Go sound (due to gentrification and fewer music programs), pushed a generation of DMV’s young millennials into the booth. Now, the scene is full of talented artists, and they’re making waves all over the country.
While younger artists like Logic, Goldlink, and increasingly, Rico Nasty, are becoming household names, there are still a range of other names on the cusp. Here are just a few: