In The Ruff, Diamond District, 2009
It's overwhelming how much good music there is, you just wouldn’t know that if you listen to the radio. It's even more amazing to me when people say hip hop is dead. More like, these people are getting older and maybe hip hop is dead to them. My response to people that think this is that their curiosity and sensitivity to music has probably dwindled. This album can very easily represent the vitality of hip hop of today. Talented mc's keep popping up and others maintain to constantly show their skills. I said this before when I wrote about Mental Liberation by Oddisee on a different blog, but something happened because I keep on discovering talented new artists. I could be hungrier for something new, but who knows? To argue about who is the best mc isnot something that I do. I don't rank albums or mc's because in the end, I am one person and the next person could completely disagree. Regardless, ranking dumbs down conversations to numbers when music (hip hop) is an art.
The Diamond District came out in 2009 and it’s an album that everybody should go and pick up, especially, if you yearn for the raw talent and hip hop production from the 90's. Mental Liberation, by Oddisee has become a constant in my MP3 player since I discovered it about a year ago. I checked in on Oddisee's MySpace page to see when his next project drops and I saw that he had a new project coming out with two mc's in a group they call the Diamond District. I had never heard of XO and YU before, but this is an impressive introduction/debut album for these two. Oddisee, XO and YU are the group members and they can all hold their own on the mic. Oddisee does the production for the group and raps along with XO and YU.
Their part of the East is where Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia all come together. In the Ruff is the group's debut album slash bomb that takes you away from the glitz, neon and glitter of 2010 back to the gutter and guts of the 90's. One great thing about this group is that they shed light into an underground scene that you don't hear too much about, the DC area.
The production samples mix in some classic hip hop tracks, boom bap beats and varies from up to down tempo. Diverse. Just to name a few of the samples, they sampled "Mass Appeal" in "I Mean Business", an Ol' Dirty Bastard/Wu-Tang sample in "Who I Be", an old school Jay-Z sample that I can't place right now and has some other , non-hip hop, dusty samples in there as well. The beats can go from hard, to smooth and laid back to dark and moody. Like I said, the music is diverse. In the Ruff has a series of interludes that gives each emcee an opportunity to show their individual lyrical talents over a hard beat with, soft keys and scratchy jumps of vinyl in the background.
All three emcees are talented. Oddisee has a distinct voice with a mid tone twang which surprised me when I first started listening to him. I have met people from Virginia that have a bit of a twang, so I guess it makes sense. Oddisee is genuine, authentic, creative, musical and thoughtful. His lyrics bring you back to humble beginnings, down to earth consciousness that I think a lot of people need to hear. I've been getting more familiar with XO and YU, but I'm still not as familiar with them as I am Oddisee. XO has a dynamic off-beat/on-beat combo, witty style that makes you realize that the voice and words are an instrument as much as a guitar. YU has a bit harder sound to his voice, but has a skilled, constant, spiritual, battle style. Each piece is strong, holds their weight and shows their skills.
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Streets Won’t Let Me Chill, Who I Be, Back to Basics, I Mean Business, Get in Line, In the Ruff, The Shining, The District, Off the Late Night, Let Me Explain, First Time
The Diamond District on MySpace Click Here
Oddisee on MySpace Click Here
Oddisee on Bandcamp Click Here
X.O. on MySpace Click Here
Y.U. on MySpace Click Here
Mello Music Group on MySpace Click Here