As I listen to tonight’s post, two things are for certain: Diamond District is (was?) a supremely dope trio that needs to make a grand return sometime soon, and boyyyyy, do I ever love waxing nostalgic about my 20s, running the streets of Washington, D.C. with youthful and sometimes reckless abandon!
Looking back on my 300+ posts on The Wildebeest, I’ve spoken on solo projects from Oddisee, Uptown XO (in my first ever post!), and yU, multiple times in fact, but I never really got into Diamond District, the group that introduced me to the trio, got me into D.C. hip-hop, and partly influenced a major life change. Well. Better late than never!
Diamond District is a collaboration between rapper/producer Oddisee, from Prince Georges’ County, Maryland, rapper/producer yU of Suitland, Maryland, and rapper XO, from uptown D.C. They were part of a new wave of DMV (District, Maryland, and Virginia) hip-hop that raised the city’s stature in the genre in the mid to late aughts.
In 2009 the trio dropped their debut In The Ruff, a gritty record with thunderous boom bap that sounded like prime Gang Starr but came from the nation’s capital. At the time I was living in north Florida, a semester away from graduating with no plans for what was next, and the record became the soundtrack to my senior days. It put me onto D.C. rap, and soon after I was perusing other area artists like Walé, Phil Adé, Tabi Bonney, and Damu The Fudgemunk.
That interest in the DMV played into my choice to take a post-grad internship in D.C. in 2010, a moment that would change the trajectory of my life. Loved the vibe of D.C. and the freedom of being in a big city, and so I eventually made my way back in 2012, where I’ve been ever since.
So yeah, thanks a lot, DD!
Following In The Ruff, the group took their time on a follow-up, with all three putting out stellar solo projects over the years. After a (longgggg) five year wait, Diamond District returned in 2014 with their second and latest record, March On Washington.
I adore March On Washington, it feels like an evolutionary step for the group and a step forward for DMV rap. Gone is the boom bap, as Oddisee’s production is lush, smooth, and soulful, and lyrically all three emcees have grown tremendously since their debut, going from street rhymes to reflective ruminations on life, the rap game, their city, and more. March On Washington is a mature, confident, feel-good rap record, one of that year’s best, coming right at the time when all three artists were making considerable waves in hip-hop. This record, along with yU’s People of Today with Slimkat, and XO’s Color de Grey absolutely dominated the fall of that year for me, and really came to be the soundtrack for a time when I was coming into my own as a person, entering adulthood, and making connections and fun, fond memories in D.C.
But yeah, I could go on and on about how significant this group is to me, but let’s get to a track! Always enjoyed “A Part of It All,” an upbeat, engaging, and absolutely dope listen. Love the video as well, featuring the crew holding things down all around the District. It never fails to put me in a good mood.
Man, I’mma need another album at some point!