A Beat in the Bloodline
A historic display of unity and success sheds light on new age for music in Washington, DC
(photographer: Ajani Truth)
(January 7, 2009)-Influential hip-hop regions have understood that just because no one is looking doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on.
Houston did it. Atlanta did it. Now in a new decade of the millenium, Washington, DC is making it happen.
For more than 20 years, rap music in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area has existed with very little acknowledgment from the media and from major labels. But with the constant development of artist coming from the district, it’s hard to deny the movement. And there is a picture to prove it.
Judah, one of the DMV’s most demanded producers, took the opportunity to capture the motion in which he has been able to participate for the last 10 years. On a rainy November 1st, in front of the legendary Lincoln Theatre stood the offspring of hip-hop born of the nation’s capital, waiting to stamp their moment in history. Nearly 200 artists, dancers, DJ’s and hip-hop tastemakers attended the historic photo shoot.
“The hip-hop scene in the DMV area is at an all-time high,” said Judah. “There is so much good music coming out and what better time to recognize it than now?”
Many may believe that Wale was the first to be signed to a major label from the DMV area, but there have been several who stood at the gates of national recognition, eating off of a hip-hop plate. Black Indian, whose presence graced the photo shoot, was one who had a deal with MCA in 1999 and released his debut album, “Get Em Psyched.” Also at the photo shoot was Section 8 Mob who had a great run in the 90’s with several EP’s released on Solar Records in ’94 and ’95 and their most recognized project “Guilty by Association,” which was released by Tommy Boy Records.
What’s more astonishing than the careers of various emcees from this region is the endorsement from one artist to another. The hip-hop scene existed prior to the boom that ignited within the last decade; however, rappers didn't have the blogs and other social media areas such as Facebook and Twitter to connect it to other facets of the DMV fashion and art culture. Now that the connection has been made, there is a resurgence of dynamic artwork and photographs with captivating videos, compelling other realms of colorful mediums to support their "local" artists.
Ajani Truth, the photographer of the affair, keeps his business going by being one of the most requested photographers in the DC metro area with his work in fashion and music promotion.
“The growing hip-hop scene in the DMV has created an opportunity for more collaboration between rappers, models, singers, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, visual artists, clothing venues, writers and more,” said Truth. “Hip-hop is a major player in fashion and art in our society, so when a local hip-hop scene grows fashion and art will have to respond.”
DC is not new to the music industry AT ALL. Columbia Records (now Sony Records) formed at 709 G Street in NW DC in 1888. Duke Ellington made his mark in the early 1900’s. Marvin Gaye also got his start here. Chuck Brown, the god-father of go-go, originated the sound in 1976, dropping his first national hit, “Busting Loose.”
“A lot of rappers sprung out of the go-go scene back in the day,” said Judah, as he remembers the sounds of the well-known band, the Northeast Groovers. “Go-Go was another outlet for artist to get their music out.”
This fresh year looks to acknowledge a new element as Judah is in the process of working with the city of Washington,DC to declare November 1st as DMV Hip-Hop day. This motion would turn a photographic memory into an event to be recognized and marked in the region’s musical history forever.
“No one can deny us,” said Judah. “DC, Maryland and Virginia have been here [hip-hop]…we’ll always be here.”
Judah x Wale studio session for 100 Miles and Running mixtape