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An MC gets emotional

B. Rich

The Last Great One

self-released

B. Rich

The Last Great One

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In 2002, B. Rich achieved something that no other Baltimore rapper has in the decade since: a national single all over TV and radio, and a major-label album in stores. That the song, “Whoa Now,” was a catchy but lightweight dance number and the album didn’t move many units has translated to Rich not being treated with much reverence, at home or elsewhere. But he’s kept plugging away, splitting his time between Baltimore and Atlanta and dropping independent albums such as

Born Rich

and

Traffic Art

that were better than most would’ve given him credit for. Time doesn’t seem to have made Rich humble, though; his new mixtape is called

The Last Great One

, and the cover shows his face surrounded by hip-hop titans such as 2Pac and Jay-Z and phrases like “Baltimore’s Hometown Hero” and “The Voice of the People.”

Rich’s music was more street-oriented from the beginning than “Whoa Now” let on. But there still might be some cognitive dissonance for anyone who picks up his latest and hears him rapping songs like “Til I Die” and “Play for Keeps” over beats that sound like they were made with Young Jeezy in mind. His voice may be lacking in the gravitas required to pull off everything he tries, but he comes across as genuinely thoughtful and lyrically skilled on the soul-sampling highlight “We All the Same,” better than the easily dismissed one-hit wonder many remember, if still nowhere near the legend Rich is in his own mind.

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