Brittney Carter Credit: Lauren Washington

On September 29, Chicago rapper Brittney Carter posted a video of herself freestyling with a casual cool, rounding off her crisp verses precisely so that they’d blend with the instrumental’s glassy vibraphone melody and nimble, funky beat. Her synchronicity with the music could make you swear it’s an extension of her voice. The next day, Missy Elliott quote-tweeted Carter’s video with three fire emojis and an “ooooweee,” becoming the latest (and perhaps the greatest) to fall under Carter’s spell. As Matt Harvey noted in a 2019 Reader feature on Carter, she’d already made fans of rising local artists and long-grinding veterans by late 2018, when she won a spot opening for Top Dawg Entertainment rapper Jay Rock at Concord Music Hall.

Carter will no doubt keep turning heads with her debut album, As I Am (Loop Theory). She delivers her lines with a tight, poised flow, dialing in the plush bounce and rhythmic pulse of her verses with a perfectionist’s merciless focus, and she always prioritizes clarity. On “Can’t Go Back,” where she’s accompanied by a sparse fingerpicked acoustic guitar loop, she sometimes squeezes her lines together like she’s stuffing a clown back into a jack-in-the-box—but even then she gives each word enough attention that you can make them all out. Carter’s smoothness on the mike makes the 21 minutes of As I Am fly by, but even in that brief time the album can convince you she’ll be building a deep catalog of rewarding music for years to come.  v