In a June 2016 interview with the Breakfast Club DJ Drama said, “One thing about Atlanta is every 3, 6, 9 months there’s always somebody hot, somebody new.”
Start with that, and as Nicki Minaj says, “Let it soak in like seasoning…” and then weigh it against your own observations about the state of Hip Hop in DC. What did you come up with? That the music industry infrastructures in Atlanta and DC are so wildly different that a fair comparison is impossible to draw? True. But if you conclude that, then it begs the question, “What’s up with that?”
In the past we’ve put a variation of this question to three highly regarded people with insights into the DC music scene; Cathy Hughes, Marcus J. Moore, and DJ Boom. Then we read a recent review by the esteemed music writer Marcus K. Dowling about the “Glowed Up” showcase in which he postulated that we are witnessing a transition in DC Hip Hop that will (maybe) put us on par with major markets. Then we listened to an Oddisee interview on WLVS Radio where homeboy couldn’t even compile a list of up and coming DC artists, which to be fair is not his job.
In a Sophisticated Sunday interview with us Radio One founder Cathy Hughes said, “This city has produced some of the greatest names in music; Marvin Gaye, Duke Ellington, Roberta Flack, Herb Fame, Billy Stewart; I mean the list is endless. Chuck Brown. Chuck Brown created an entire music genre. He created go-go. But I think it’s always going to be hard for the entertainment industry to get a foothold in DC…”
Nationally known music writer Marcus J. Moore, who is now a senior editor at Bandcamp basically did a must-read primer for any DC artist who seriously wants to get to the next level in his “10 Questions 4” interview with OnStage. Importantly he said, “Too many young rappers want to emulate the people who’ve already got on; they dress and rap like Wale, and wonder why no one takes them seriously. We need more young rappers to provide the alternative, to create art that’s dynamic and different, not just the same cookie-cutter nonsense that’s so popular now. The rap game is a rat race, so when they see someone earning money rhyming a certain way, they feel the need to reinvent the wheel instead of making music with staying power. We need artists to provide the alternative, and stop trying to fit in with the crowd. If everyone else is creating what you’re creating, why should anyone pay attention to you? What makes you stand out? Now that Fat Trel is beginning to make national strides, the field is wide open for someone to take the crown. I just hope the next rapper does something unique. They can’t always pop bottles and sell drugs.”
And Listen Video Studio founder and owner Jeremy Beaver aka DJ Boom in a December 2012 “10 Questions 4” interview pointed out something that 4 years later still provides the best answer to the Atlanta/ DC comparison; “…what the area seems to be missing is industry, i.e., record labels, management companies, booking agencies, and major corporations willing to work with or utilize the wealth of talent in this area. We have BET, Discovery, XM/Sirius, National Geographic, RIAA, Radio One and others; but their local community integration is limited.”
Put those three observations together you come up with; DC has always been a storehouse of talent but where Hip Hop is concerned even our most talented artists can’t find traction because too much of what they’re doing is emulative as opposed to being groundbreaking, and what’s missing is the same music industry infrastructure in place and available in Atlanta, i.e.., record labels and management companies, marketing professionals and access to distribution networks.
Judah x Piff Tannen -- Sunday
Tylan – #TheReUp
D. Green – Black Amerika
J. Beale & Yung R.U. – Hard Grind Vol 1
DeUce Double – Beautiful Struggle
The Gentleman Rapper – Tough Luck Try Harder
And available on Spinrilla, Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music ...