@Judahonthebeats Choose Wisely Video

Friday, October 16, 2009

DMV x WASHINGTON POST

D.C. Hip-Hop: Can it Break the Hold of Go-Go?

SLIDESHOW
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Hip-hop artist Wale.
Hip-hop artist Wale. (Jon Dragonette)

XO

Like so many Washington musicians before him, XO's story begins on U Street. The 24-year-old got his start there seven years ago, cutting his teeth at open mikes at now-shuttered venues Capital City Records and State of the Union. "Every week, continuously, I was building up my confidence and I was building a rapport," XO says of his early days.

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Showmanship and business savvy might be in XO's DNA. His grandfather managed the renowned Washington soul group the Young Senators, his father drummed for Gil Scott-Heron and his mother is a Howard University-educated saxophonist. They knew go-go, too. "They used to be on the street playing go-go together -- my mother, my aunt, my father," XO says. "Playing down in Georgetown for money, slapping on buckets and all that."

After graduating from open mikes to club stages, XO began releasing mix tapes, a spate of which erupted this year: "Us vs. Them" built buzz in January, "Realmatic" turned heads in March and his finest work, "Monumental," has enjoyed over 30,000 downloads since June.

But unlike mix tape rappers desperate to leap out of your headphones, XO sounds cool and assured on "Monumental." The sheen of "Time Out" puts his detractors on ice, while "Crabs in a Barrel" captures the competitive angst that dominates not only Washington's musical spheres, but the city at large.

"People be rapping about materialistic stuff that doesn't matter and only lasts for so long," XO says. "What I'm targeting is emotions that people go through. Ten years from now, people will still be struggling and you'll be able to listen to my music and feel a little better."

KINGPEN SLIM

It's Tuesday night at Alexandria's Depth Charge Studios and everyone is huddled around the television as the Twins take the Tigers into extra innings. Between pitches,Kingpen Slim is dreaming big. "Success for me is Grammys, platinum records," he says. "I feel like that's my potential."

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Like so many of Washington's ascendant rappers, the 27-year-old has both is defined by his limitless ambition -- and his connections to go-go. "I grew up in Adams Morgan and got my start rapping in a go-go band, " he says.

But where most aim to repurpose go-go's rhythmic verve, Slim adopts the music's playfulness. The rhymes are intricate and sly on his breakout mix tape "The Beam Up," with stand-out track "Powder 4 The Babies" putting his wit on full display: "Breathe/You hatin' and waitin' to exhale/You teeny, you eeny/I'm way XL."

With his star steadily rising, does Slim think that Wale's fate decides the future of the scene? "I don't feel like my success hangs on anybody else's," he says. "But we've already all benefited from [Wale's popularity]. It got everybody a lot more focused, got everybody a lot more serious about their craft . . . the music got better."

Fans will be able to hear the latest improvements next month when Slim headlines the Capitol City Music Tour, a series of local concerts featuring XO, K-Beta and others.

PHIL ADE

Phil Adé spent his teenage years in the Washington area, but his rap career began in a dorm room 700 miles away. "When I should have been asleep, I'd be up all night in the room next door, rapping," says Adé, reminiscing on his one and only semester at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala.

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A college friend eventually introduced Adé to Maryland R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn, who quickly signed the 21-year-old to his new label, 368 Music Group. In July, the rapper dropped "Starting on JV," a mix tape brimming with glossy beats and outsized boasts.

Adé speaks in a soft southern drawl completely absent from his live delivery, but he certainly doesn't lack confidence. " 'Starting on JV' is me making a statement," he says. "I'm one of the best new cats out here."

Adé's roommate, producer D.O.P.E. Sunny, is looping a 4 Non Blondes sample ad nauseam in the same room -- the only room in Adé's New Carrollton apartment with chairs. Adé speaks excitedly about a forthcoming mix tape collaboration with Atlanta's esteemed DJ Don Cannon -- meaning he might be able to furnish his apartment sooner rather than later.

"You're not doing anything until somebody walking down the street recognizes you," he says. "People just going to the grocery store -- they don't know Phil Adé. I still got a ways to go."

TABI BONNEY

Wale paved the way for plenty of regional hopefuls, but one rapper paved the way for him. Twenty-eight-old Tabi Bonney had a breakout hit with "The Pocket," a local anthem that dominated WPGC 95.5's rotation in 2006.

Since then, Bonney has become a linchpin in the scene, a rapper-turned-director who's shot videos for many of the city's up-and-coming MCs. He's acutely aware of the bigger cameras now zooming in on Washington. "You got 'The Real World D.C.,' 'The Housewives of D.C.,' " says Bonney. "The media spotlight is coming here."

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Bonney grew up in West Africa, where his father, Itadi Bonney, was a musical superstar in their native Togo. The nation's civil unrest eventually brought Bonney and his family to Washington, where he began rapping in middle school. He formed a group called Bonney & Carter during his days at Banneker High School and performed with Organized Rhyme while earning a degree at Florida A&M.

Now, after two well-received solo discs, he's about to join another group: a Los Angeles-born pop outfit called the CryBabies. The group's resemblance to the Black Eyed Peas is no coincidence. Bonney's new bandmates were mentored by Will.I.Am.

Local rap fans might be surprised by the career move, but not Bonney. "I always knew I was gonna end up pop," he says. "D.C. is resistant to change, and those who are resistant to change get left behind. You have to look at the bigger picture."

BEST KEPT SECRET

Perhaps no one has more to gain from Wale's success than Best Kept Secret, the production duo of Craig Balmoris and Ernest Price. Better known as Craig B and Tone P, they are responsible for the go-go-influenced tracks that helped get Wale off the ground.

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"We basically take all the [expletive] that's tight about go-go and fuse it with what's tight about hip-hop," Craig says. "Mash it together and bam! There you go."

Percussion is the duo's lingua franca, and in the basement studio where they work, they punctuate their sentences by clapping their hands or pounding their fists on armrests and tabletops. Craig and Tone are both 22 years old, first cousins who grew up in neighboring rowhouses on P Street SW. "We could bang on the walls to communicate," Craig says.

They met Wale through the Internet equivalent of banging down his door: "We harassed him on MySpace," Craig says. Their first collaboration was "Ice Cream Girl," a song that would eventually appear on HBO's "Entourage."

"We're like brothers," Wale says of his relationship to Craig and Tone. "We really make great music. It's like peanut butter and jelly."

Best Kept Secret has farmed out over 100 beats to a slew of Washington rappers, four of which made their way onto "Attention Deficit." No one has played a more vital role in weaning Washington eardrums off go-go and onto local hip-hop.

"A lot of people have closed ears. Living in D.C., you get trapped up in the go-go world, the accent, the culture," says Tone. "It's a tough city and it's hard to break through.

"Wale is the first guy out here and we're the music that's behind him," he says. "It's like our moment of truth."

Credit goes to Chris Richards for writing this Washington Post piece.

Dope article and congrads to the people were spotlighted. Once this hit twitter I started getting alot of emails and calls about those not featured. I hear yall voices and if your issue is warranted or not these are the people chosen to be spotlighted so live with it. Congrads to them. I dont think this is the last time we will see a piece like this in the paper because of the strides metro music is making. There will be more write-ups just make sure you or your team is making enough noise to get noticed. 

However with me having to speak my mind and in my personal opinion I wish Innerloop Records was mentioned and or spotlighted. Those guys have killed this year and had several official events, videos, etc... that showcased each and every one of these guys in the post just so they could be heard. This leads me to believe that the person writing this doesnt completely have his ear to the streets etc...

I was asked on Wednesday by someone that will remain nameless " am i mad i didnt get recognized". Not at all! Not at all! I'm proud to see people I have worked with and/or help along the way get shine. Im just a little ol producer and when it comes to media thier focus is on the artist and the artist story. This is media and entertainment folks. It is what it is!

Sunday Im having a historical moment in DMV music for alot of folks that do not get recognized and these same people in this post article are included. So that speaks volumes.

When you see these folks show love!


24 comments:

Killa-K said...

Its good to see all these artist get some shine.I wish Oy Boyz Don Choo and Boobie,Gerredi,Target Squad,RaTheMc,Don Juan,Marky and all them wouldve got some shine to

J-$crilla of Guns-N-Butter/Inner Loop Records said...

RESPECT! All the artists n that article deserve it. I hope we in the next feature

UPSET THE SETUP said...

can i help you with your blogging cuz youre not doing it right!

Ross said...

thats whats up for all them. i can think of a few missing but cool they getting love.

Overok said...

Press is press. No need to cry over spilled milk. We are all moving, let's keep it that way.

DDotOmen.com said...

*Scans post, sees DDotOmen.com linked in original article*

[Insert Hater Comment Below Line]
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DJ Torkaveli said...

In no way did this article imply that the artists featured were the only ones making moves.

With the quality and quantity of talent artists, it's impossible to hit em all. Nobody should be catching feelings over this.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't really feeling the Washington Post article like that. The DMV hip hop scene is flourishing. I'm kind of getting tired of seeing and mentioning the same names we always hear. There's more artists out here that need to get mentioned but they don't such as G5 Clive, Godsilla, Diamond District, Hassani Kwess, JFK, Joe Young, Garvey The Chosen One, Shatiff, and etc.

Inner Loop Records is doing their thing, but that Culture of Honor album was horrible. Stop supporting music that sounds like it's being made from the garbage and I'm not hating. I paid 10 Dollars for it and I want my money back.

tia said...

Look good fellas. i dont really listen to none of them except for phil but im going to check the others out.

Anonymous said...

i got my copy. Im happy to see it but I know judah and low budget crew shouldve been in there. Oddisee. 1 step foward and 2 steps back. Im not hating but real recognize real and I just dont know. no oddisee, kev brown or judah.

Doce said...

This proves its about who your connected with. No lyriciss or Adversary or likeblood? Even the music game here is political.

DCSuperSid said...

Good over all article, I had a question why the reporter had to go all the way to Berkeley, CA to get a quote about DC hip-hop?

Overok said...

Anonymous,
Thank you for your support. If you would like your money back, stop by the "No Love" video premiere at Eyebar on Tue.

Ardamus said...

respect to these dudes on their grind and congrads on them making it in the article

i hope the next article goes in depth with more artists on the scene though.

Anonymous said...

niggaz always wanna bitch at other people when THEY dont get recognized. These people were recognized becasue OBVIOUSLY they are the ones actually making moves that are the right ones. Its cool grinding and all and ur name getting familiar on the "dc rap scene". But People like Tabi, Wale, Best Kept Secret, they are the ones REALLY putting our city on the map in terms of progession. I can even throw likeblood and kev brown in this conversation because they are making big moves as well. And i agree with otherdude....i feel what inner loop trying to do with the movement of hip hop and the events and all are cool. but musically those guys need more work. because the music they put out is not good...especially k beta. congrats to those in the article and artists making MAJOR moves period.

De-U.c.e. Double said...

Good read while I was smoking my tree & drinking my drink on my B-Day wekend. It actually read better then da last article they did on us...LOL!!! Don't get me wrong I thank God 4 da press but they snitched on us tho...LOL!!!

- Mr. 40. Watt -

deucedouble.blogspot.com

kash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gods'Illa said...

Much respect to those artists featured in the article. Felt good to look at the Sunday paper in the barbershop and see artists that we can respect and identify with. If you weren't mentioned, utilize it as motivation and nothing more. Stay in PEACE!!!

-Gods'Illa

G5 Clive said...

very good article.
we should all embrace the rare "love" this city does show its artist, whether it be the ones u prefer or not. these artist are much deserving and shud only serve as motivation for us all. good job yall! lets shoot for bigger coverage the next time around. we still hav a ways to go artistically but we're making great strides. everyone put the work in and we all eat someway. 1

JUST ANOTHER DIRTY TOPP DOGG said...

MAN THAT ARTICLE WAS GREAT!

ALL 5 OF THOSE FOLKS ARE DOING MORE THAN ANYONE WHO DIDNT GET MENTIONED

IM NOT GONNA TALK ABOUT HOW MY COMPANY, TOPP DOGG HILL, SHOULDA BEEN MENTIONED, REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE HAVE OR HAVE NOT DONE IN THE CITY.

THATS NOT FAIR

IF I DID THAT, THEN MIDIEAST WOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO COMPLAIN

THEN THE OY BOYZ

THEN DON JUAN

THEN LIKE BLOOD

THEN INNERLOOP

THEN TARGET SQUAD

I COULD GO ON

THE POINT IS, IF YOU DIDNT GET MENTIONED, STOP BEING COMPLACENT AND WORK HARDER!!!

COMPLACENCY IS WHAT CAN HURT YOU AS A LOCAL ARTIST

GET YOUR SONG PLAYED ON THE RADIO DONT GET COMPLACENT. DO A VIDEO THAT GETS 10,000 PLAYS IN THE FIRST WEEK, DONT GET COMPLACENT.

INSTEAD OF GETTING COMPLACENT, TRY TO VISUALIZE WHAT THE NEXT STEP IS AND TAKE STEPS TO GET TO THAT NEXT GOAL

EITHER WAY, GREAT ARTICLE AND I LIKE HOW THE PORTRAYED THE GOGO AND HIP HOP DILEMMA

-FOLKZ

P.S. I F**KED WITH CULTURE OF HONOR. I THOUGHT I WAS A WELL PUT TOGETHER PROJECT. JUST SAYIN

IamFUTUREhistory said...

Man thas was up I love seeing stuff like this it reminds me that the area is on the come up. Remember yall, the press is always gonna behind us fans. We stay current and we give artists the power. Once it happens than cats get recognition as long as we support, every artists tha deserves it will get their shine someday.

K'lajh (backrowdmv.blogspot.com) said...

Nice article, good to see strides. I like your post you put up after it to, real shit.

@igotit4free said...

That shit was dope...now we got different cultures and different social classes reading about the movement...Got my copy, framed my copy ...now waiting on the Next One...and remeber its always Next Sunday, so stop having all these Kayne moments and keep grinding...The DMV awards should be interesting this year lmao

J-$crilla of Guns-N-Butter/Inner Loop Records said...

anonymous lol. keep it 100% baby!