Diamond District: Rap Game Government Shutdown

Holy fuck Jordan Pedersen misses Breaking Bad.  The term “classicist” gives the entire movement an unfair advantage. It opts for the word “classic” when, if it were being honest, “old...
By    October 18, 2013


Holy fuck Jordan Pedersen misses Breaking Bad

The term “classicist” gives the entire movement an unfair advantage. It opts for the word “classic” when, if it were being honest, “old head” might be more appropriate. Or, thinking pessimistically, “stale.” As Mike Ehrmantraut told Walter White, “Just because you shot Jesse James don’t make you Jesse James”: sounding like a classic doesn’t make you a classic.

But there’s a big difference between conceitedly sidling up to your betters and paying tribute to them: when D.C. fixture Oddisee told an audience at Fat Beats in 2010 that he wanted to give District kids a golden age rap record of their own – D.C. had go-go but not much golden age hip-hop to speak of – you can tell he’s speaking from a sense of duty and not pigheadedness. It helps that his group Diamond District’s first album In the Ruff didn’t just sound like a great album; it was one.

Fans of rap filial piety will exult at the news that Oddisee and cohorts yU and Uptown XO – he of the excellent and underappreciated Colour De Grey from earlier this year – may actually be close to finishing March on Washington, the long-awaited follow-up to Ruff. The evidence? “Bonus Flow,” a Diamond District track tucked away at the end of Oddisee’s Tangible Dream, a free mixtape the rapper graciously included as a freebie with his new instrumental record The Beauty in All.

The Beauty in All is a delight in itself, but Dream is the real treat, chockful of inventive sampling – the title track features a fire flip of Grizzly Bear’s “Fine For Now” – and percussive, confident flows, both courtesy of Oddisee.

Some rappers choose to end their albums with a bow; Oddisee opted for a middle finger. “Bonus Flow” works like a classic slasher, its jittery, grayscale pulse the placid establishing shot of Crystal Lake before Uptown goes Jason Voorhees and slashes the track to bits. He spits Twista fast about “crack right up the block from the president” and how Diamond District made it “cool for K Dot to do what he do.” It’s not really clear what Uptown means, but you’re too busy catching your breath to doubt him.

yU plays the evil sheriff, the guy you think has come to save the day but turns out to be in league with the bad guy. Oddisee arrives last to survey the damage, casting Diamond District as the saviors of a fallen city. You don’t doubt him.

Diamond District have returned to teach the so-called classicists a hard lesson: if you want to be compared to the classics, make a classic. Here’s hoping March on Washington fits the bill.

ZIP: Oddisee – The Beauty in All (Left-Click)

ZIP: Diamond District – In the Ruff (Left-Click)

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