Best Rapper: President Davo

Baltimore knows all about pain and perseverance, but no one else rapping right now quite captures that tragic optimism like President Davo, one of the most talented MCs around. He can get lost in a whirling freestyle like a backpacker but is just as apt to sing or moan as he is to spit—usually with a vibrating auto-tune-like effect on his voice. Last year’s mixtape, “MeanWhile” maintained the momentum of “UnderRated 3.0” (which housed the break-up-with-everything-and-anything hit ‘With Me’) and features ‘Charged Up,’ a touching character sketch of a young man’s slowly increasing involvement in the drug trade. Other Davo tracks of note this year include the introspective ‘Look In A Mirror,’ a relationship rap back-and-forth and the haunted sing-song of ‘So Much’ (“I seen so much death, I ain’t scared no more/ A lot of my friends ain’t here no more”). And then there is his collaboration with Young Moose, ‘Rainy Days,’ a stormy slow jam rap song about police brutality.

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