Photo: Trinecia Amor
Fast-rising Philadelphia rapper 2Rare releases his romantic new single, “Lil Mama.” via Second Estate / Warner Records. The song, which samples Mario’s 2004 hit “Let Me Love You,” is a whirlwind showcase for 2Rare’s more romantic, contemplative side as well as the fervent club energy captured in the jubilant video that has marked him as a breakout star.
From its opening notes, “Lil Mama” foregrounds the kind of musical ingenuity that makes 2Rare so magnetic. The stop-start cadence of the Mario sample sets the listener up for a soon-to-be hypnotic rhythm that takes hold and makes 2Rare’s vocals sound downright sweet. That same sentiment is amplified further in the video.
Despite his incredibly brief time in the spotlight, 2Rare has shown himself as one of the best practitioners of this sort of urgent club rap—but also as someone who can unfurl himself into other styles. It's so potent that other rappers are trying to co-opt his energy as well. Most recently Lil Uzi Vert in his “I Just Wanna Rock Video” which Rare is prominently featured in and previously Drake featured him in his "Sticky" video. “Q-Pid,” his smash collab with Lil Durk, reveals just how adept 2Rare is at merging street rap with more playful sounds.
Once a rising football star, 2Rare turned his attention to music after the slinking “Big Drippa” began to gain steam in 2020. Since then, he has revealed a remarkable depth of talent and varied musical interest that gives him the chameleonic ability to work in different subgenres without losing his distinct identity. As people step back outside, 2Rare seems poised to make his urgent, pliable club songs the soundtrack for 2023 and beyond.
2Rare is on a mission to bring the fun back to rap. The North Philadelphia artist born Naseem Young has immediately set himself apart from his peers over the last few years with his irrepressible charisma and the furious energy of dancefloor-ready hits. East Coast club music has been booming in the mainstream of late, but 2rare’s rapid-fire bars and uncommon ear for hooks make his songs echo in your head way after you leave the club. Growing up a football player, 2Rare says that his brother and other family members rapped but that none of them broke out to the degree that he has. He and the people around him have realized that in his time making music he’s already developed a gift. The crown jewel of his run so far is “Q-Pid” feat. Lil Durk, an irresistible club flip of 112’s 1996 hit. 2Rare springboards around the beat like an Olympic gymnast, and its corresponding dance challenge has already gone viral. The attention is extreme, but 2Rare knows he deserves it. “It’s to that point where people say, ‘Rare runs everything he hopped on,’” he says. “They’ll hear a party song or a dance song and be like, ‘Yo, put Rare on it.’” He’s already proved he’s more than ready for the challenge.