I got a message on Twitter this week from Chris McDonald, directing me to a site called “Maryland Matters.” I figured it was another state blog that he thought I should add to our State Roundup.
Imagine my surprise when I found it was a link to McDonald’s hip hop album, which begins with a clip of one of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s weekly economic updates. It doesn’t appear he’s done one this year, but O’Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec told me in an e-mail that the sampling of his audio is “definitely a first.”
McDonald comes in after a few lines: “O’Malley’s talking jobs jobs, maybe another stimulus plan. Dammit Leland maybe we should start a business plan.”
It’s not necessarily the musicality that gets me here as much as the subject matter. In fact, I like the other songs on the album better than the first track that samples O’Malley. It’s called Visitor’s Center. Another track, “DMV Storytelling,” is about the daughter of a conservative Maryland lawmaker who gets wrapped up in scandal.
But when emcees rap about place, they usually rap about their neighborhoods and their hometowns. When they rap about politics, they usually go national.
It’s rarer for the rhymes to hit the state level. (Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” is about New York City, despite the title.)
I got in touch with McDonald. He is a 27-year-old Toyota salesman in Annapolis, who grew up and still lives in Prince George’s County. In one track, he calls himself the “fresh prince of Prince George’s County.”
He said his focus should help him appeal specifically to Marylanders.
“The whole idea of it is to tell the story about what we have to go through in our state,” McDonald said. “I wanted to make a statement that people in Maryland could connect with. This is where I’m from. This is the state that made me who I am.”
He says he’s kind of a centrist – socially liberal and economically conservative. The lyrics aren’t really partisan. Mostly, he’s just talking about trying to get by.