Opinionated: Top 5 Artists in Baltimore by Petula Ceasar-journalist/artist/author
I don’t usually give my opinion unless asked. And since Chin-Yer did ask, here’s my totally opinionated .02 cents on five top artists in Baltimore. My criteria? 1-Talent. The artist must be talented. Not just a little talented. They need exceptional talent presented in an exceptional or unusual way. 2-Growth as an artist (especially if they’ve been around for a bit). Is the artist’s work improving and evolving? Or if the artist is relatively new, can you see the trajectory the artist’s career is on? 3-Expansive fan base. Is the artist at the same tired venues, or might you catch them anywhere and still find their fans? Who is checking for the artist outside the local circle? Can the artist gig outside the DMV WITHOUT A HOOK UP? Can the artist go into a venue where no one knows them and KILL IT? 4-Grind. Can you see the hard work they’re putting into their craft? With these things in mind, I picked these 5 top Baltimore artists:
1.FEMI THE DRIFISH AND THE OUT OF WATER EXPERIENCE
As part of The 5th L Femi has already spent well over a decade demonstrating his prolific spoken word talents. But by pulling together producer/bassist K.P., producer MoRece on keys, Spyda on drums, vocalist Alexis-Joyce and Chuck The Madd Ox on human beatbox to create The Out of Water eXperience, Femi now operates as lyrical front man for a crazy talented band whose high energetic alternative rock/hip hop stage shows rock the crowds wherever they perform. As they venture beyond poetry venues into musical venues, they are developing a new fan base that loves them musically and lyrically.
He’s internationally known, locally respected. Quantize Records’ Marc Evans is here, there and everywhere – downtown B-more one day hosting his open mic event, in Europe the next day, in Asia the following week. From house to soul to jazz and more he can sing it and send goose pimples over every bit of your flesh. He has fronted every type of band imaginable from jazz groups to cover bands to more eclectic collectives of vocalists and musicians. His well-worn passport is an indication of just how popular Mr. Evans is. He’s topped charts, he’s even authored a book and…well, I’m just tired thinking about all this man does.
Throw a chicken box and you’ll hit 10 local R & B chicks with their freshly taped down lace fronts, trying to dethrone Beyonce ‘n dem. And in all fairness, some of them can sing, and even gig outside Baltimore. I picked Kissi B. for her range of skill and her stage presence – her voice flows from R & B smooth to neo soul silk with ease, and she can rock every musical genre in between. She also gets props for the amazing stage show that isn’t just flashy presentation. And she gives it ALL at every single show, which is something one doesn’t always find with local singers – her stage presence and ability to entertain as well as engage her audiences makes her stand out from her competition.
First of all I love any producer who plays at least one instrument well, so Patrick gets my respect for that alone. Wendel also gets a nod from me for his versatility, his musicality, and most importantly, his participation in The Boom Bap Society, an event at The Wind Up Space that you truly must experience to appreciate. Patrick is a classically trained pianist and internationally traveled as a performer, and his fan base is as eclectic as his sound can be. While his stylings are often part of hip hop, they aren’t ruled by hip hop, which I definitely appreciate. And did I mention he’s a deejay as well?
5. KANE MAYFIELD
Whenever I hear this dude’s name I start to laugh (private jokes…LOL), but I am not laughing at his skills by any means. He’s excelled at everything you could ask for in the rap AND the hip hop game (notice the distinctions I made there). He is a straight lyrical beast; a verbal monster. He battles with the best of them when so inclined, has been part of a rap group, has participated in and even won poetry slams, and as a solo artist has rocked hard with tracks and with bands alike. And he’s funny as hell. You’re more likely to catch him doing a show outside Baltimore these days, but he still considers Baltimore a key part of his journey as an artist