Thursday, October 15, 2009

Philadelphia's Two One Five Magazine Mentions Diamond District in DC Hip Hop Article

By young h | Send to Friend

Historically known for the heavy percussive go-go sound (snuck into popular urban culture through Jill Scott’s It’s Love and The Root’s “Rising Up”), Washington, DC has barely had a lasting presence in Hip-Hop aside from forgettable songs like the Questionmark Asylum’s “Hey Look Away Now” and Nonchalant’s “5 O Clock”. With Barack Obama’s rise to national leadership having a culture shifting impact and the potential to change what seemed to be a hopeless destiny brought on the Bush administration’s two terms in office, DC’s Hip-Hop scene has followed in tow as set to shake things up on both the underground and mainstream fronts as heads impatiently await the next movement to rave about.

Following in the footsteps of legends such as Diamond D, Pete Rock, Large Professor and Q-Tip, Oddisee simultaneously wears the hats of MC and producer and has been hailed as one of the best up and coming acts in both arenas. As part of the Low Budget Crew (members including the hungry and rising Kenn Starr and Kev Brown) Oddisee’s music wasn’t easily attainable to those who didn’t follow the underground with a fine toothed comb. While the Foot In The Door mixtape and Oddisee 101/102 compilations served as proper introductions, it was this past April’s Diamond District album In The Ruff that sent shockwaves through Hip-Hop’s blogosphere and rendered his vision one to be closely heeded. The group Diamond District consists of Oddisee, and the lesser known X.O. and yU, all of whom contribute a crucial piece to this puzzle. yU represents lyricism of the highest order, X.O. speaks for the gritty perspective of the streets and Oddisee is the crew’s overseer and visionary, producing the bulk of the album and carrying the heavy weight of his city’s Hip-Hop scene on his shoulders. The album (available for free at is already considered one of 2009’s sleeper hits and looks to do wonders for the careers of all three members, with X.O. steadily putting out mixtapes of his own, yU releasing the stellar Before Taxes project shortly after the Diamond District album recently came out, and Oddisee’s Mental Liberation compilation released May 5th on Mello Music Group. Between hard work resultant in good art and the cosign of former Maryland resident turned omnipresent tastemaker Peter Rosenberg, Oddisee and the Diamond District are well on their way to rising through the ranks of subterranean Hip-Hop’s elite.

On the mainstream side Wale is slated to be the not only the area’s breakout success story, but one of Hip-Hop’s next biggest sensations period, with a buzz that has now reached deafening levels. Having been covered in most major media outlets from hipster rags Urb and The Fader to the more ubiquitous Source magazine before signing a deal with major label powerhouse Interscope Records (home to 50 Cent & Eminem amongst other big sellers), and making the cut for XXL’s 2009 Freshman 10 article, it’s hard to turn a corner without hearing mention of his name. With only released a string of mixtapes to his credit thus far, what separates Wale from the throng of rappers shooting for superstardom? His appeal is far reaching as he’s considered a trendsetter and somewhat of a cultural leader in the streetwear/sneakerhead circles, hometown supporters want to see him win (the anthem “Nike Boots” celebrated DC and one of its most popular choices for footwear), and most of all he’s actually supremely talented at rapping. Talk of Wale’s name officially went into overdrive with his cover of French electronic band Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” from his mixtape 100 Miles And Running, and his appearance on The Roots’ Rising Down album shortly preceded The Mixtape About Nothing which boosted his star power even further. His sights seem to be set on bridging the gap between the hip crowd consumed with the latest Hip-Hop fashion styles and diehard music enthusiasts who award points for creativity, witty lyrics and topic material of substance, for example “The Kramer” addressed cultural usage of the n-word in the wake of Michael Richards’ public outburst. In preparation for his debut album Attention: Deficit set to drop in a few months, Wale will be shortly releasing the Back To The Feature mixtape with production wizard 9th Wonder, guest appearances including Talib Kweli ,Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Bun B, and Royce the 5′9. Already having established clout with “real” heads, Attention: Deficit’s risky lead single “Chillin” features new pop sensation Lady Gaga and is a far cry removed from his primary endeavors to date. The album will also reportedly feature a range of guests from Q-Tip to Marsha Ambrosius and John Mayer, likely to establish Wale as the name that immediately comes to mind when Hip-Hop and the nation’s capital are mentioned together.

Whether you live for the era where music was more pure and unfiltered or you’re just a casual listener looking to move your head, DC’s present ambassadors for Hip-Hop culture won’t disappoint your ears. The Diamond District and Wale are both breaking ground for the city by showing respect to old-time authenticity and looking towards the future respectively.

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