Innanet James Takes Leaps Lyrically & Stylistically with Sophomore Album, 
Keep It Clean

 Evan Dale // Sep 19, 2018 

There is a specifically uptempo, lyrically profound, R&B-influenced approach to hip-hop native to the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area. And it’s growing. From the time that GoldLink appeared on the scene with The God Complex in 2014, the style, rooted at differing points in hip-hop, neo-soul, and electronic production, has been leaving a pronounced mark on the international hip-hop scene. Though usually bubbly and warm in sonic texture, there is nothing lost in its ability to retain seriousness and maturity through DC’s long-standing tradition of culturing lyrically-conscious rappers. And in that duality of a fun-loving, bouncy aesthetic meeting thoughtful, dynamic penmanship, the style has distanced itself from other new waves popping up across the globe. 


Founded on the area’s history as a hotbed for transcendent musical forces – D’Angelo, Chris Brown, Missy Elliot, Pharrell, Timbaland – the blending of musical elements shouldn’t be surprising. After all, this is a scene that in modern times, boasts acts as dynamic and musically innovative as DRAM, Brent Faiyaz, Abhi//Dijon, and April + Vista, who themselves each belong to their respective ends of the uniquely geographical spectrum with GoldLink. 


In addition to DMV’s past and its names mentioned present, Innanet James is a name not to be misremembered, central to its transcendent hip-hop complex. With the release of his sophomore project, Keep it Clean, the myriad artist gains a deep and inventive addition to his existing gait, making his case as one of the most dynamic and intriguing young artists in all of music. 


That praise doesn’t come lightly.


For those of you new to the Innanet James construct, there are not too many references or comparisons to be made to his sound. But, those comparisons that he does deserve are likewise, not to be taken lightly. With an auditory aesthetic in many ways comparable to the transcendent driving force of his DMV peers, his sound, most directly built upon the virtues of hip-hop, is reminiscent of a rapper like GoldLink. Both artists certainly have a uniquely inviting vocal delivery, a quick cadence, ability to extend vocals into song, and a well-endowed vocabulary. But, like any artist able to be described as transcendent, single comparisons are only so defining. As such, another artist worth mentioning when delineating the sonic texture of Innanet James is the almost incomparable Anderson .Paak. A transcendent artist if ever there was one, .Paak, like James, is an inviting, conscious musician with a sound as bubbly as it is inventive. Summery vibes drive the warm passions in each of their music, especially when considering .Paak’s electronically-informed work with Knxwledge.


At the crossroads of hip-hop, R&B, and electronic; at the crossroads of DMV transcendence and the stylings of GoldLink and Anderson .Paak; at the crossroads of conscious penmanship and subconscious good vibes, Innanet James with Keep It Clean is a master of the emergent DC aesthetic. 


Undoubtedly informed by more traditional DMV hip-hop artists, and even featuring perhaps the most prime of examples, Pusha T, Keep It Clean is first and foremost a great rap project. Lyricism and Innanet’s vibrant delivery are the true driving force behind the project’s entirety. But where rap takes priority, R&B features like KALLITECHNIS bring into light Innanet’s truly transcendent approach.


On Better Without You, the juxtaposition between Pusha T and KALLITECHNIS finds a harmonized middle ground with Innanet’s own sound, exhibiting its transcendence between two of its stylized pillars. Though his sound wavers between the two pillars depending on the track, it never escapes that uniquely defined position – a position firmly defining that greater DMV approach.


London-born, LA-based soulstress, Taliwoah and equally transcendent, DRAM-reminiscent California hip-hop artist, Rexx Life Raj round out the short list of other features, granting Innanet James, with all of his musical dynamism and obvious growth, center stage throughout. 


The result is yet another incredibly innovative 2018 hip-hop project.


But don’t let all the releases lessen its impact. Innanet James, Keep It Clean should be considered highly as one of, if not the most well-rounded hip-hop project of the year. 


The Nashville Hip-Hop artist is a bridge between the past and the present where rap's most sacred tenants, rhythm & poetry, coalesce with his vision for modern social progress and  damn good vibes. 


We spoke on the creative change of pace, on the process of piecing together what’s next, on performance, collaboration, and influence. His responses duly read of honesty, humbleness, and soul.  


Born in and permanently inspired by Houston, Bobby Earth finds heavier inspiration only at the crossroads of soul music and love.  


Splitting time between his home and Los Angeles, wide-ranging Jamaican artist of sunshiny vibes and warm-weather anthems, Tessellated is impossible to box in. 



Solange When I Get Home


Cousin Stizz | Best in Show


Kwaku Asante | honeycomb


Ari Lennox | Shea Butter Baby


Freddie Gibbs | Best in Show


YBN CordaeThe Lost Boy


Solange | When I Get Home

Marvin Dolo | Juicy

Leven Kali | Homegirl

Haleek Maul | Lucid 

Arin Ray | The Get Down

Kwaku Asante | honeycomb

Femdot | Rap City

Kojey Radical | Cashmere Tears

Ciscero | Good to Know

Joey B & Boj | No Waste Time

Smino | Trina

Serious Klein | Lil Capo

[2018  IN REVIEW]


Mahalia | 2018's

Best Artist


2018's Best Projects


2018's Best Artists


SAINt JHN| 2018's Best

New Artist 


Noname's Room 25 | 2018's Project of the Year


2018's Best New Artists



MfnMelo & Saba | What A Life 

TOBi | Faces 

Rexx Life Raj | Father Figure 3 


Christian Kuria | Losing You 

Jacquees | King of R&B 

Bennett | Give Me A Reason  


Kwaku Asante | Sunday 

Berhana | HAN 

Free Nationals | Shibuya 


Adekunle Gold | Young Love

SIDIQ | Brand New Day 

Jesse Markin | Folk 


ROLE MODEL | oh, how perfect 

Omar Apollo | Hit Me Up 

Emerson Leif | Wake Up With You 


FKJ | Yling Ylang 

Tourist | Kin 

Shmuck the Loyal | Hypervade 



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