Baltimore’s Young Moose sounds like he grew up on the street rap of New Orleans and Baton Rouge: ‘Posted,’ the standout single from his latest mixtape “O.T.M. 2,” features a No Limit-style piano loop; his drawling delivery is equal parts Webbie and Juvenile; and “Out the Mud,” the title of his label and mixtape series, is a phrase most commonly encountered in the lyrics of Louisiana heroes like Lil Boosie or Kevin Gates. But Moose’s Baltimore accent is unmistakable—“little” sounds like “lor,” “dog” sounds like “dug”—and there’s a palpable sense that the grimy narratives in these songs took place in his own backyard, not some fantasy version of the deep South.
Young Moose boasts “They call me Baltimore Boosie,” which is an ambitious claim – there’s likely no local rapper whose popularity in Baltimore rivals Lil Boosie himself. But it’s clear that Moose’s aim is to become a street rap hero for his hometown just as Boosie is for Baton Rouge. “O.T.M. 2,” hosted by Baltimore mixtape magnate DJ Jabril, is heavy on gun talk and threats to “come through and John Hopkins you boys,” and light on original songs that pop as effortlessly as “Posted.” But the best track is “How Would U Carry It,” which flips Baltimore club music icon Miss Tony’s old refrain “how you wanna carry it?” into a series of questions about how an opponent—or victim—might handle various life-threatening scenarios.
In the past, Baltimore’s unique mix of Southern and Northern culture made the city’s hip-hop scene difficult to market, but the Internet has accelerated a move towards a kind of post-regional rap diaspora: Rap’s top star is a Canadian who synthesizes styles from various American cities, while Atlanta rappers currently flock to producer DJ Mustard’s California-based “ratchet” sound. Moose is the result of a generation of local rappers internalizing influences from all over the map well before the Drake era. And in that sense, Baltimore may be ahead of the competition for once.