Staring toward the ceiling, Tate Kobang mumbles short bursts of words and hummed placeholders. Holding the studio headphones closer to his ears, he animatedly rocks back and forth as a new flow comes to him in the moment. As the Baltimore rapper's grin blooms to a full-blown smile, Kobang can't help but let the music move him in the booth.
He found what was he looking for.
"See, I'm from Baltimore. We like to dance," Kobang said during an interview earlier that fall day at Above Ground Studios in Baltimore's Bel-Air Edison neighborhood. "When I catch my melody, it's over."
This process —...