Fresh off a club tour with their hot-as-a-pistol fellow Baltimore band Future Islands, Chiffon (the opening act here) makes brilliantly hazy make-out music. It’s synthesized late-night R&B, the sort of slow jams and scintillating sexual grooves that some velvet-wearing DJ named Venus Flytrap would play during the wee hours.
But the plug artist here is rapper Abdu Ali, whose frenetic and abstract noise-rap is woven around ambient Middle Eastern pseudo-melodies and hypnotically rich electronica.
The Baltimore Sun calls Abdu Ali Eaton, a native son, “the city’s most transfixing new artist.” Not because his live shows are high-octane, jubilant and highly dance-able affairs. Not because the 24-year-old is a fresh graduate of the University of Baltimore, with a BA in creative writing (he wrote his first rap-to-music less than two years ago). Not because of the Infinity Epiphanies album, or the innovative videos for his songs “Machete Warz” and “Thornz” (check them out at abduali.com).
And not because he’s one of the few openly gay rappers in the country.
It’s all those things, together, that makes him an individual, eclectic, combustible in a very watchable way.
“I don’t want to sound like nobody else,” Ali says. “That’s one of my main goals. It’s kind of crazy; a lot of these rappers want to sound like ASAP Rocky or they try to sound like Kendrick Lamar. I don’t understand. Why do you want to sound like other people?”