Baltimore's Abdu Ali is an abstract, poetic screamer with a penchant for beats that nod to both his hometown's frenetic club music scene and the digi-grinding skronk of Internet-fueled noise-rap. As an openly gay MC, Ali's work will inevitably be categorized with talents like Le1f and Mykki Blanco, but stuffing those artists into an invented, nonsensical genre like "queer rap" does them no favors. The rapper's 2013 release Push + Slay was stunning and versatile on its own; in Abdu's music you can hear everybody from James Brown to Waka Flocka Flame.
On the single "Machete Warz," produced by Schwarz — the producer was also responsible for 2013 SPIN favorite "U R Beautiful" and VH1-friendly, ratchet remix project Real Trap Shit Mix Vol 1: Ratchet Muthaz (1992-2002) — there's even some of the aggravated stylings of Schoolly D and early Beastie Boys. In the video for "Machete Warz," directed by New York's Trophy, Ali provides a pentecostal vocal performance in Day-Glo camo, wields (you guessed it) a machete, and pays homage to Huey Newton and Funkadelic. Watch the clip above.