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Hip-Hop in the DMV: Cultural Architects

In Washington, D.C., where culture reigns supreme, D.C.-area recording artists deliver a unique authenticity distinctive to D City. Local artist pay homage to a cultural tradition of “Bustin Loose” by masterfully interweaving the complexity of East Coast lyricism with danceable beats and southern soul. If the visiting administration’s message to the world is, “This is America, b—,” local D.C. Artist have rebutted with, “This is D.C., b—–.” Take a look at our lineup of some of D.C.’s cultural architects:

DB Bantino

“Crankin'” is just one word to describe music from D.C. rapper and songwriter DB Bantino. With the 2018 release of his solo project,5 in the Valley, DB Bantino is preparing to step into the spotlight after collaborating with some of hip-hop’s finest. His resume includes French Montana, D.R.A.M., Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Chris Brown, Boosie Badazz, Fox’s hit show “Empire” and A&E’s “Who Killed Tupac?” series. His breakout single, “Low,” and his latest March release, “Toss It,” emphasizes DB Bantino’s ability to compete with today’s hottest solo artists. DB Bantino has made a name for himself behind the scenes of the music industry and one listen to 5 in the Valley will help you understand why your playlists needs him in the forefront.

Goldlink

Goldlink
Goldlink

Hometown hero Goldlink put the entire DMV on the map with his platinum single, Crew, which featured local artists Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy. His sophomore album took care to highlight local DMV musicians, but his innovative method of infusing rap with EDM has gained him global notoriety. Goldlink’s vulnerability, authenticity, and male perception on romantic relationships secures him a wide fan base and refutes the popular “N—-s ain’t s—” narrative. Earlier this month, he released a track titled “Got Friends” with Grammy Award-winning artist Miguel and last week, Goldlink was featured on NPR’s prestigious Tiny Desk Concerts; joining the ranks of Khalid, Daniel Ceaser, Big K.R.I.T., Common, Brandy, Andra Day, Ledisi and The Roots, just to name a few.

Kali Uchis

Kali Uchis
Kali Uchis

Columbian-American, Grammy-nominated recording artist Kali Uchis is vibes. She catapulted to radio rotation last year via a collaboration with R&B powerhouse, Daniel Ceaser, and his hit record, Get you. Kali Uchis has also worked extensively with odd-ball rapper, Tyler the Creator, featuring him on her new hit single, After the Storm. Kali Uchis wrote After the Storm as an inspirational psalm to her fans struggling with life’s setbacks, a topic she can relate to after living in her car for months as a high school student. Despite her high profile collaborations, Kali Uchis has attained popularity due to her own vintage style and ability to intersect a wide range of musical genres. She announced her debut album, Isolation, in April of this year, on the Tonight Show. Isolation peaked at 32 on Billboard’s Hot 200.

Lightshow

Lightshow
Lightshow

Representing for Southeast Washington, D.C., Lightshow chronicles the life of being young, Black and male in the transitioning inner city. A CEO of his own 86 America recording label, Lightshow is not only a rapper, but also a musical engineer and businessman. In his latest album, “Kalorama Heights,” Lightshow emphasizes the human consequences of urban gentrification, economic instability, and gun violence. Lightshow has released 12 full mixtapes since 2011, but has been recording since the age of 11 via a radio-CD-tape player method. Early on, his recording experience put him on with many hip-Hop influencers in the DMV. Lightshow has performed with hip-hop legend Doug E. Fresh, fellow D.C. Native, Wale, and collaborated with numerous hip-hop heavy-hitters including Atlanta’s own, Waka Flocka. His single, Now, featured on his 2016 mixtape, “Life Sentence 3,” has acquired almost a million views on YouTube.

Rico Nasty

Rico Nasty
Rico Nasty

Quintessential DMV bad girl, Rico Nasty aka TacoBella released her junior mixtape, Nasty, on June 15th. In a male-dominated hip-hop industry, Rico Nasty is a spliff of Key Lime OG for care-free party girls who are bout that action. Rico is carving her own lane with what she dubs as Sugar-Trap; a style of Trap Music that amplifies her feminine voice by mixing hard and soft sounds. She takes time on her latest mixtape to diverge from here usual apolitical message to challenge the Bamma-in Chief himself, President Donald J. Trump; screaming, “F— Trump! Black girls, stand up! B—- I’m nasty, and I don’t give a f— like, what is classy?” A product of the trenches as she refers to the hood, she has taken her pain and anxiety from traumatic loss and teenage pregnancy and used it as fuel to claim her rightful place amongst the DMV’s finest. These five artists represent just a fraction of the talent in the city. Also, look out for Beau Young Prince, Ciscero, Chaz French, Lil Dude, Noochie, and many more as the DMV prepares to solidify itself in the music game.

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