What's up with hip-hop

StarrZ (pictured), whose buzz in and outside Baltimore hit a new level with the release of last year's Best Mixtape Ever, has joined the small club of rappers in the city with major label affiliations, recently signing a Universal Music Group contract. He also recently shot the video for "Dope Trilla," the lead single from the upcoming mixtape Live Forever, Die Dope.

Judah's Juke Joint, the weekly local hip-hop showcase at the Now Child Soundstage, will have a special "420 Edition" this Saturday, April 20, presented in conjunction with WEAA's long-running Strictly Hip Hop program. The headliners of the show are A$AP Ant (the Baltimore representative of A$AP Rocky's A$AP Mob) and OG Dutch Master (whose 3.5 Gramz mixtape drops the same day), along with such performers as Eze Jackson (also of Soul Cannon) and Vision. As with other Judah's Juke Joint events, OOH from Brown F.I.S.H. will host and DJ Booman will be spinning all night.

While Baltimore is full of talented beatmakers, relatively few have the confidence or inclination to make an instrumental album. Tom Delay Beats, however, has stepped out to put his drums and samples front and center on the album Sharks in the Sky, released on his Brake Fast Records label in March. Delay's previous album, 2009's Cases, was dominated by guest verses from Brake Fast artists like A-Class and Dirt Platoon. But Sharks is all beats, no rhymes, and is damn good if you're into that sort of thing.

Stevie "Low Key God" Loney, a ubiquitous figure in Baltimore hip-hop for the past two decades, passed away on March 17. His good friend rapper Ray Lugar has organized an event, Tribute to a Legend, to celebrate Loney's life and accomplishments, at the 5 Seasons on May 5 from 4 to 8 p.m., according to the flyer. The late promoter's community is invited to share Low Key stories (there are lots of them) and donate the minimum $10 admission to the Steven Loney Education Fund. More information is available on the memorial Facebook page.

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