The Rap-Up Volume 18

The Rap-Up is a weekly round-up of all things hip-hop. Check it out every Wednesday.

This week in The Rap-Up, Lil Play writes his way to the spotlight, Los Angeles-based rapper Blu establishes another alter ego and St. Louis rapper Rockwell Knuckles advocates-high speed trains.

Writing Rewards Lil Playy

Even if the song is released by another artist, writing a hit record is always a good way to get into the music industry. Such was the case for Lil Playy, who penned the chorus for Ludacris’ platinum single “My Chick Bad,” which also featured Nicki Minaj.

Now the Houston rapper plans to capitalize on the momentum that comes with being a Grammy nominated writer. He signed with super producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and veteran entertainment executive Suzanne de Passe, who led him to Interscope Records (home to Eminem, Dr. Dre and Lady Gaga among others).

With a full-out campaign that includes a video for “B.B.M. (Bigger Better Moneyy),” the new track “Drippin” and the “Tour Bus Muzik” mixtape, Playy is gearing up for the release of his first official EP, which is slated to arrive later this year. With catchy writing and equally noteworthy industry insiders championing him, Lil Playy may be ready for big play.

Blu Uses New Name, Preps Official Release For “Jesus.”

Alter egos are par for the course in the rap game. Virtually everyone other than Kanye West and Erick Sermon uses them, and even those two have a plethora of additional handles. Already an enigmatic figure, underground rap stalwart Blu recently released on the Internet the album “Jesus” as B.

The collection caused a stir as people pondered who B actually was. With the mystery solved, “Jesus” was quickly removed from the web and will get its official release August 30. The collection features guest Planet Asia and production from The Alchemist and Madlib. The dreamy track “Lucky” can currently be heard and downloaded and finds Blu repping his Los Angeles roots. With “Jesus,” Blu again has the Internet going nuts, as has been the case since his emergence in 2006.

All Aboard The Rockwell Knuckles “Train”

Many modern day rappers have been criticized for lack of imagination. Rockwell Knuckles is at least one rhyme slinger who is approaching music making from a distinct perspective. The St. Louis rapper’s new single “Bullet Train Army” highlights his vivid imagination, interesting song concepts and willingness to explore atypical imagery.

The same characteristics apply to his just-released “You’re Fucking Out, I’m Fucking In” album. Some artists are applauded and rewarded for taking changes. Others are dismissed as weird, strange or simply wack. It’ll be interesting to trace Knuckles to see in which category he lands -- if not both.

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker.

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