With a combination of old-school beats that bounce with a soulful strut and lyrical prowess that paints vivid pictures of D.C.’s disillusioned youth, it is no surprise that Diamond District has emerged as one of the frontrunners for best new hip-hop group. Rolling Stone magazine, along with a host of other publications and media outlets, have recognized them for their buzzworthy-ness.
The pulse of this three-man operation is producer/rapper Oddisee, who has been making a name for himself by producing for artists such as Freeway, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Little Brother, De La Soul, and Nikki Jean. He steps to the forefront with his newest magnum opus, the sprawling Odd Seasons, which consists of 4 seperate EPs that highlight summer, spring, fall, and winter with a total of 31 tracks! Some of them are full-fledged songs, while some are perfect little nuggets of sonic ideology that you wish had been fleshed out a bit more (smart move on his part….your mind gets crammed with lots of great ideas, but not bogged down by a bunch of words).
The tracks that stand out to me the most are those that feature the British M.C. Tranqill. “The Supplier” offers ample opportunity for one’s head to bob. Tranqill spits such an easy flow, laced with that unmistakable U.K. accent, but it compliments the “Cooley High” vibe quite well. “Ci’iy Life” and “It’s Over” offer up some pastoral melancholy that has Tranqill reminding me of a long-lost British member of The Pharcyde. Most British M.C.’s are rapping on top of hyper-electro beats that have them skidding and scrambling to keep up, but the mix of London accent with D.C. hip-hop/soul strut is such an awesome combination that I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard more of this type of collaborative effort. It’s a fresh sound with an ear to the future of hip-hop that still maintains it’s roots in the traditional dopeness of an effortlessly poetic and thoughtful urban flow.
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Other highlights include “That Day,” which features D.C.’s favorite free-spirited soul fairie Musinah, “Birds and Bees” and “Black Broadway” which reconnects Oddisee with the Diamond District crew (reppin’ HARD for D.C.!!!), and “I’m From P.G.” which has Oddisee doing his rap thing solo with pin-sharp observations that sum up the experience of the young black independent-thinking male living in the DMV.
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This project bursts at the seams with excellence! All the elements that make hip-hop enjoyable are present in abundance. There is a very clear vision that steers this collection of songs to an elevated level of artistry. I will proclaim loudly and proudly that D.C. and the entire DMV area is being represented to the fullest by this young man and his wide-reaching talent.