The track is the Maryland emcee’s latest single following his sophomore project, Preparing 4 the Mirror, and like the best summer anthems, it’s seasonal but timeless. The lyrics tell a simple story: The narrator gets fresh before leaving the house, chills on the porch with friends and hits up a bar later that night. It’s the kind of carefree narrative recognizable to anyone who’s been through their 20s.
But for Da Kid Emm — real name Michael Yeboah — writing “How We Ride” wasn’t just a matter of conjuring a feeling. There’s craft here, too.
“I still focus on bringing my songs full circle,” says the 27-year old artist, a Gaithersburg native who now lives in Westminster, Maryland. “I want you to never lose sight of what the song is about, and it kind of clicks in those last few lines right before going back into the chorus again.”
Da Kid Emm believes that a song’s message should be easily conveyed and relatable — and if performers want to get their music anywhere, the production needs to be on point. “If your track has good lyrics and it’s muffled or don’t match the quality of what’s on the radio, who is gonna hear your or take you seriously?” he says.
It seems Da Kid Emm is being taken seriously: The rapper has shared a stage with Drake, and he recently opened for Dirt Nasty and Mickey Avalon at Baltimore’s Soundstage. He also has a respectable following online — but he doesn’t think his work ends there.
“Social media has people thinking it’s all about followers and likes,” Da Kid Emm says, “but you get exposed as a fake when they see you live or no fans show up to your shows.”
The rapper credits his friends and family with helping him with his career, particularly his girlfriend, who advises him on business. Their efforts appear to be paying off: Da Kid Emm recently signed his first distribution deal as a solo artist, and his music is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Music.
The Marylander also has a new single called “Live It Up” on the way, and he plays another gig tonight in Baltimore. He sees every performance as an opportunity to improve his prowess on stage.
“To me it doesn’t matter if I’m opening a show for Future or Jake Miller,” he says. “I treat every show like it’s mine and give my all.”
Da Kid Emm performs March 16 at Ottobar in Baltimore.