Monday, November 2, 2009

Amerie Review

Amerie wants to be more than a '1 Thing' wonder
By Chris Richards
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 1, 2009

NEW YORK -- It's lunchtime at Seraphina in Midtown Manhattan and Amerie is ransacking her purse, searching for a shaker of Himalayan salt.

"It has the same pH balance as our tears," the 29-year-old singer explains.

Half diva, half brainiac, this is a Georgetown University graduate who likes to read science magazines while she prepares for her latest photo shoot, a team of handlers fussing over her hair.

But most know Amerie as the voice behind 2005's chart-topping R&B single "1 Thing." With its bursts of percussion and ribbons of insistent melody, the song remains one of our decade's most revelatory pieces of pop music. "It's this one thing and I was so with it," she belts on the song's delirious refrain. "It's this one thing you did."

On Tuesday, Amerie will try to do it again with "In Love & War," her first U.S. release after a lengthy four-year absence. Weaving urgent melodies through sandpapery beats, it's an album tailor-made to stand out in an era where R&B singers are often treated as interchangeable parts in the great American pop machine.

"On the radio, you have a lot of artists sounding like each other," Amerie says between bites of bruschetta. "They don't really sound like themselves -- they just sound like the producer who did the record. To me that's super-whack."

Super-whack, indeed. In a world where uber-producers like The-Dream, Timbaland and Danja often play musical chairs with pop's A-list vocal cords, listening to the radio can have a particularly numbing effect -- one that makes Amerie's grittiness feel all the more resonant.

You can hear it in lead single "Why R U" -- a pining love song with a scrappy boom-bap track courtesy of the production team the Buchanans. Unlike the chorus of "1 Thing," here our hero finds herself suspended in a different type of romantic disbelief: "Why are you the only thing that I care about? . . . Baby, you're no good for me, no!" Her vocal trills morph into growls as the beat threatens to boil over. "I like to work with people who are willing to create something with me, versus just giving me just their off-the-rack track," Amerie says of her collaborators. "I didn't come here to get a such-and-such record, I came here to get an Amerie record that we're gonna create together."

That desire for complete control came to a head in 2007 when Amerie decided to shelve her then-forthcoming disc, "Because I Love It." The album would have been her third U.S. release for Columbia Records, but the singer had grown skeptical of her paymasters and put the project in cold storage as she plotted a move to hip-hop powerhouse Def Jam, where she's currently signed.

"There was just too much turmoil on the executive level," she says of the lack of promotion she felt at her old label. "If it's not gonna be put out right, I don't want to do it."

The transition to Def Jam comes after a life of endless transitions. Eldest daughter of a U.S. Army family, Amerie Rogers was born in Massachusetts, but quickly moved to her mother's native Korea. Then to Texas. Then to Germany, back to Texas, and eventually to Alaska, where she graduated from high school.

Along the way, she glommed on to a wide spectrum of pop, developing an affinity for Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Marvin Gaye, Madonna, the Beastie Boys, the "Grease" soundtrack and whatever else her parents were playing on the family stereo. "We always had soul music in the house," Amerie says. "And my mom listened to a lot of traditional Korean music" -- a drum-and-vocal-centric form that undoubtedly influenced her approach.

When her family relocated to Fort Lee, Va., in 1998, Amerie wanted to stay close. So she enrolled at Georgetown. She would major in English and minor in fine arts, but began pursuing her pop ambitions full steam. "Socializing was nonexistent," she says of her student days.

She eventually crossed paths with local producer Rich Harrison and formed a partnership that would launch their respective careers. "A lot of the [music] that I was encountering was soft and melodic R&B stuff and I'm not really into that," says Amerie. "I like a more aggressive sound. That was just so hard to find. That blend of aggression and prettiness."

But Harrison had it. He produced her entire debut album, 2002's "All I Have," as well as "1 Thing," and other standout tracks from her 2005 sophomore disc, "Touch." The duo haven't collaborated since, but Amerie wants to change that.

"Hopefully, we'll work together on the next project," she says. "I really want to. I'm always thinking about the next thing."

But today she has a new album to promote, and a car whisks her away from the restaurant to the studios of "106 & Park," the long-standing video countdown show on BET. The program's brightly colored soundstage is packed with teenagers coached to scream with all of their being, creating an ambience that sounds like pandemonium. If the network could find a way to harness the wind energy generated by these teenage lungs, it might be enough to power the blinding klieg lights overhead.

After the hosts' introduction, Amerie glides onto the stage to present her new video for "Heard 'Em All," a song with sharp, clashing synths that match the video's post-apocalyptic imagery. Three minutes later, the music fades and the audience cheers -- though the teens look a little dazed by the tune's aggression. This isn't the sweet, cookie-cutter R&B they're used to. Amerie knows when to add salt.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Is It Movie Review

By Chris Richards
Thursday, October 29, 2009

"This Is It," the new Michael Jackson concert film, has been billed as a rare glimpse into the creative psyche that defined pop music's shape and trajectory. But this isn't a concert film. It's a rehearsal film -- and one that will leave Jackson's most zealous fans waiting for goose bumps that never arrive.
This Story

MOVIE REVIEW: 'This Is It' doesn't do justice to M.J.'s magic

Filmed at the Staples Center in Los Angeles between March and June, "This Is It" captures the King of Pop prepping for a 50-night run at London's O2 Arena. But after the singer's death shocked the planet on June 25, the extensive rehearsal footage -- intended for Jackson's personal archive -- was quickly cobbled into a feature-length documentary that landed in theaters on Wednesday.

Must the show really go on? At best, "This Is It" is a mere sketch of what Jackson seemed capable of delivering in London, with the King of Pop only half-singing, half-dancing through his most rousing hits. Stiff and frail, he paces the stage, during "Wanna Be Starting Something," as if mulling things over in his mind. At times, he appears almost lost inside himself.

And so it goes for nearly two hours. Jackson emerges from a mechanical spider during "Thriller," he rides a cherry picker during "Beat It," he hustles through a medley of Jackson 5 tunes including "I Want You Back" and "I'll Be There." As the latter song fades, he cracks a rare smile, basking in phantom adulation.

Dramatic pauses abound during rehearsal (imagine roaring fans here, here and here), but when the singer flicks his wrist, his band best not miss it. Jackson tut-tuts over a few missed cues, but otherwise his direction is fussy and inarticulate.

During "The Way You Make Me Feel," he softly chides his musicians for not letting the intro "simmer." You can almost see the question marks materializing over their heads.

Not the case with Kenny Ortega -- his noggin seems to produce only exclamation points of agreement. He's the director of both the concert and the film, and he shepherds Jackson through these rehearsals with a true yes-man's adulation. ("I agree, Michael," he declares after Jackson quasi-resolves things with "The Way You Make Me Feel.")

Along with Ortega's generous screen time, there's plenty of other inconsequential footage: tech dudes grunting as they schlep gear; costume designers explaining which sequins are shiniest; a guitarist who says how excited she is to work with Michael Jackson, followed by a second guitarist who says how excited he is to work with Michael Jackson.

And the poor dancers. You'd really hope to see Jackson enjoy a spontaneous moment with these incredible talents as they pop and lock around their idol, but all they get is a hand-holding circle where the singer speaks in fuzzy platitudes about adventure and love and saving the planet.

The film's one undeniably human moment comes during "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," with Jackson finally allowing himself to be swept into the music, singing full throttle. But despite the crew's excitement (and ours), he cuts it short: "I have to save my voice."

For a man who so desperately wanted to show us perfection -- or at least project the illusion of it -- Jackson would never, ever want us to see this film.

This Is It (111 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG for suggestive choreography and scary images.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Review of Maxwell Performance Washington Post

Suddenly, It's Again Maxwell's House
Neo-Soul Singer Rides A Surprise Comeback

Maxwell charmed fans in Richmond on Wednesday, just one stop on his biggest tour ever.
Maxwell charmed fans in Richmond on Wednesday, just one stop on his biggest tour ever. (By Jay Paul For The Washington Post)

On the heels of hit album "BLACKsummers'night," Maxwell woos the Richmond crowd on Wednesday night. He plays Verizon Center on Friday.
On the heels of hit album "BLACKsummers'night," Maxwell woos the Richmond crowd on Wednesday night. He plays Verizon Center on Friday. (By Jay Paul For The Washington Post)

By Chris Richards
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 2, 2009

RICHMOND -- Wednesday afternoon. Six hours till showtime. Maxwell is lounging in the cheap seats of the Richmond Coliseum, watching his road crew assemble the stage as if it were giant, real-life game of Tetris.

Just a year ago, the resurgent superstar would have been able to attend a concert here -- even sit in this very seat -- without garnering a squeal, a smile or a second glance. But when the lights go down later in the night, a packed house will greet the singer with grown-woman shrieks usually reserved for the likes of Al Green.

Call it a comeback that no one saw coming -- including Maxwell. His latest album, "BLACKsummers'night," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart in July, officially ending a multiyear hiatus from the stage, the radio and the ever-bourgeoning blogosphere. Now the prodigiously gifted, intensely private 36-year-old is enjoying the biggest tour of his career.

"BLACKsummers'night" has sold 779,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan -- 55,000 of which were snatched up in Washington. The singer says the District is his strongest market -- a fact evidenced by lead single "Pretty Wings," which has taken up permanent residence on local airwaves since early summer. It's a resplendent slow jam adorned with haunting gamelan chimes -- and he'll surely be crooning it when the BLACKsummers'night Tour lands at Verizon Center on Friday night. (Remaining tickets are expected to sell out before showtime, according to a Verizon Center spokesperson.)

So where's he been? Maxwell smiles at the question and says his exile was entirely self-imposed -- an attempt to reclaim his anonymity and the regular-dude love life that went with it. He recounts his time away in fond tones and a sandpapery rasp that belies his gravity-defying falsetto.

"I think by taking that break and living a life and meeting girls who actually didn't know who I was, where I didn't have to rest on those laurels and actually had to work for it instead of just having it fall in my lap -- that actually made ["BLACKsummers'night"] appealing to the masses," he says. "It made them sort of believe me more."

It also reaffirmed the faith of older fans who had been following Maxwell since the glory days of neo-soul -- the late-'90s movement that adopted a heady, old-school ethos in hopes of vanquishing the bling-encrusted hip-hop of the day.

Some of neo-soul's biggest stars were venerated too fast, too soon, and disappeared into the shadows of their own success. After watching Lauryn Hill and D'Angelo derail, fans wondered if Maxwell's premature exit was something beyond his control.

"I think people just assumed something had to be wrong," he says. "'Why wouldn't he want to be famous?'"

Well, why?

"Fame . . . it kind of kills the humanity and the humility of music for some reason," he says. "You're like this product all of a sudden and you have to stay in this Superman costume with people telling you that if you cut your hair, your career is over."

The iconic, blown-out Afro that he's referring to wasn't the only thing that made Maxwell famous -- but it helped. He first emerged in 1996 with "Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite" -- a stunning debut album that would eventually go double platinum. His reputation grew through 1998's "Embrya" and 2001's "Now," and his myth solidified when he vanished soon after. When the world finally tugged him back toward music, he heard the call coming from the speakers of a drug store.

"I'd be going into Duane Reade to get, like, Palmer's Cocoa Butter or get my girl tampons or whatever, and there's some song playing that I wrote five years ago," says Maxwell, remembering the little moments that eventually motivated him to start writing again.

By 2008, he had started work on a trio of albums that would share the title "BLACKSUMMERS'NIGHT." (The gospel-centric "BlackSUMMERS'-night" lands in 2010; a quiet-storming "Blacksummers'-NIGHT" is promised in 2011.)

When the first installment dropped in July, it felt sly and subversive, boasting a live band with a delicate touch. The recording has all the hallmarks of a throwback soul album: hot horns, skittery drums, bass lines that lurk before they pounce. But beneath that vintage facade lies an ocean of sonic detail that doesn't really sound like a product of its time -- or any before it.

Maxwell is quick to cite the unexpected influence of indie artists Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes. "It's funny how much more rock I listen to," he says. "R&B and soul -- it's so computerized now. . . . I knew that 'BLACKsummers'night' needed to sound live. That was the only way it was gonna sound different to people on the radio."

Now, headlining bigger venues than ever before, the singer faces the challenge of delivering that sound and all its nuances to the deepest nosebleeds.

"I want everyone," he says, tracing a crazy shape in the air with his index finger. "I want them to all to know that I feel them."

In Richmond on Wednesday night, they certainly felt him. The singer took the stage in a crisply tailored suit straight out of Motown and strutted down a Y-shaped runway, women grasping at his shiny black loafers.

The performance pushed two hours and included the ever-charming "Sumthin' Sumthin'," a cover of Al Green's "Simply Beautiful," the famously lithe version of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" and a sublime finale of "Pretty Wings."

Soaring, roaring and panting in all the right places, his delivery put him on the doorstep of a pantheon inhabited by Marvin Gaye and Prince -- those superhuman singers who protect their incredible gifts with a fierce sense of privacy.

The balance hasn't been lost on Maxwell. "All of the greats -- there was something about them. And you knew just enough, and hopefully it just circulates around the music," he says. "Now, it's so difficult to have mystique."

He shakes his head, purses his lips, soaks up the fan's-eye-view before the final pieces of the stage lock into place.

"I'm one of these people -- I don't wanna know how the magic trick is done."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review of Maxwell's new album

Not Enough Heart in Maxwell's Soul
By Allison Stewart
Special to The Washington Post

Back in the mid-'90s, Maxwell was on the leading edge of the retro-soul movement that also birthed Erykah Badu and D'Angelo. He was like Prince mixed with Marvin Gaye mixed with a lot of lesser artists who sounded like Prince and Marvin Gaye. He was the thinking woman's lover man, author of an amazing debut, 1996's "Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite," and two lesser, stranger follow-ups. And then he disappeared.

"BLACKsummers'night," Maxwell's first disc since 2001, is the first of an intended series of three studio albums in three years, each with a nominally different sound. Meant to be the most straightforward soul disc of the trilogy, it's a bluesy, dark-minded album with a lived-in feel.

Maxwell was always more of an eccentric than he seemed (his sophomore disc, 1998's "Embrya," lingered so long at the intersection of sex and spiritualism it might as well have been titled "Let's Get Metaphysical"). Neo-soul was less a revolution than a spectacular retreat, a return to the warmth and the stateliness of classic R&B with a few contemporary flourishes. Maxwell did the old thing well, at a time when nobody else was doing it at all. These days, everyone's doing it. He's tilling much the same soil as Alicia Keys and John Legend, and "BLACKsummers'night" has the peculiar misfortune of being a respectable, often charming retro-soul record at a time when respectable, often charming retro-soul records are not uncommon. It bears little trace of even the modest weirdness for which Maxwell (who famously recorded a song titled "I'm You: You Are Me and We Are You [Pt. Me & You]") used to be known. It's sophisticated and impeccable, but its mildness might be terminal. It's . . . nice.

In the service of these solid, often indistinguishable tracks, Maxwell deploys all the tools in an old-school soul singer's arsenal: horns, hand claps, stirring, gospel-y backing vocals, his much-missed keening falsetto. Sometimes he employs all at once, as on the fine and leisurely first single, "Pretty Wings." The rest fall into three categories: love songs, often regretful (such as "Playing Possum," a flamenco- and folk-inspired guitar ballad); let's-go-to-bed songs (the steamy, familiar "Stop the World"); the-world-is-going-to-hell songs ("Help Somebody," with its atypically lively, golden-age-of-soul feel).

Maxwell is not what anyone would consider a born lyricist, and these tracks are notable more for their slippery grooves than for anything they might actually say about Maxwell. Only the piano ballad "Love You" hints at something deeper. Its revealing first verse is the closest he ever gets to mentioning his extended absence ("You come out from nowhere / Disappear and reappear / Houdini would be very proud / I can speculate your fears / Wonder on your tears / But I just wanna hear the sound").

"BLACKsummers'night" is otherwise cerebral but impersonal, an album that never quite breaks free of its self-imposed restraints, that never swings when it can glide.

T-Pain - More Careful (Jay-z Apology)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Washignton Post Review of U2 Concert

Claw and Order: U2 Delivers the Hits at FedEx Field

Not even Bono could compete with "The Claw" as the main attraction at Tuesday's U2 show at FedEx Field

By Chris Richards
Washington Post Staff Writer

After months of anticipation, it finally descended upon FedEx Field: The stage prop to end all stage props. Looming 164-feet over the stage and christened "The Claw," its menacing girth made Funkadelic's mothership look like a Frisbee covered in Reynolds Wrap.

It was stunning, surreal -- oh, and a rock band played beneath it, too. The band is called U2, and it's on the most extravagantly staged tour of its 33-year career and -- judging from the stage banter at FedEx Field Tuesday -- its fans are mostly high-ranking politicians.(Only at a U2 concert will Nancy Pelosi be shouted-out twice.)

The band charged through a satisfying set of its most rousing tunes -- "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Beautiful Day" -- but they often felt secondary to the nonstop visual turbulence. This wasn't about the band onstage. It was about the stage itself. "We got a spaceship," declared frontman Bono early in the show. "But it isn't going anywhere without you!"

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Was it a threat? Because this thing looked scary. To call it "The Claw" is to have only seen it through the tiny windows of YouTube. In person, it felt more like "The Colossal Robotic Crustacean That's About To Stomp Off Into Prince George's County And Destroy Everything In Its Path." Even if it did manage to stay put, its laser cannons would surely vaporize Larry Mullen Jr. upon the flubbing of his first drum fill.

Those laser cannons were actually stage lights and with all of them firing in tandem, the band underneath seemed practically invincible. Take 2004's "Vertigo," a middling U2 anthem at best. As the quartet performed in the round, leaping from overblown chorus to overblown chorus, a cylindrical video screen hanging overhead actually began to move, splintering into hundreds of honeycomb-shaped panels that stretched slowly downward. Black and white images spun around this gigantic LCD funnel, a bioluminescent roulette wheel twisting on an axis of strobe lights. It was enough to set your mouth agape, and it gave the band permission to do whatever it pleased.

As long as the screen was working, that is. Early in the set, during a handsome version of "Magnificent," the pixels went black for about 90 seconds. Now this was some real suspense! What if U2 had to slog through the next two hours under the biggest busted television on planet Earth?

They would have been fine. Even while playing a new single that fans are still getting to know, this is a troupe that can hold its own. Before the band had a chance to really prove it, the screen flickered back to life and The Edge plunged into a warbling guitar solo.

With all whiz-bangs whiz-banging at full capacity, U2's best tunes felt bulletproof. "New Years Day" was urgent and spry. "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was noble and smooth. Even "Mysterious Ways" managed to deliver an unexpected punch, despite Bono's awkward invocation to "Get your groove on!"

His intensity peaked during "Where the Streets Have No Name," as he stomped his foot on the stage, pleading with the crowd to chime in. He had failed to trigger the enthusiastic singalongs that these songs deserved, but here it felt almost like a demand.

What did he expect? This wasn't a rock show. This was an orgy of light and sound - something that felt most apparent during "With Or Without You." When a grown man croons one of the most tender rock songs ever written while wearing a jacket embedded with laser pointers, can we be expected to do anything else than drool?

As with any seamlessly choreographed rock extravaganza, the evening's highlight was completely unintentional. It came during that delightful moment of the band's 2000 hit "Beautiful Day," a momentary pause where band's gusto evaporates into nothing, leaving the Edge and Mullen Jr. to harmonize in empty space.

Singing into their headset microphones before diving back into the chorus, the duo sounded out of breath and out of key. It only lasted a second, but it was a necessary reminder that beneath the dreamlike spectacle flashing overhead, there were actually four guys just trying to play a song.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Crabzinabarrel DMV South recap...

Hey wassup it’s your girl ReneeWoods and I thought I would show everyone the flyer I saw that made me want to go to the 9:30 Club on Saturday, September 26. 2009. Now, let me state the only artists on this flyer that actually performed were XO (who gave a good show and brought the rest Diamond District of out to perform) and Kingpen Slim (who also gave a good show). Now if that ain’t some bullsh*t then I don’t know what is!

Early on Saturday through Twitter I did learn that some of the artists listed on the flyer were not performing, so I went to the 9:30 Club website and saw that Bun B, Kingpen Slim, and Phil Ade (his record label’s website also said he’d be there) were on the show so I still wanted to go. But somehow of these three only Kingpen Slim performed. Now let me state some of the artists that performed were good but that’s not what we paid for. So, clearly this was a false flyer with some false *ss advertising! The promotion for this event sucked *ss. does not blame any of the artists we are upset with how the event was promoted.

Now honestly the entire night I just knew Bun B was about to come out but instead it was another act that wasn’t on this flyer or the 9:30 Club website. And why the f*ck was it called the DMV South takeover?? There was no Lil Jon, Trillville, Yung Dro, Plies, T-Pain, SLim Thug, etc. etc. etc. etc. and there d*mn sure wasn’t no Bun B! Before I finish this post I have one more question… why was Tabi Bonney’s picture next to Phil Ade’s name on the 9:30 Club website??? They don’t even look alike! The following is a picture of that nonsense from their website.

The family still got a few pics of some of the artists that were there and Nonchalant was in the building ( that was pretty cool :) ) peep the pics below. And oh yeah we also got some video footage (with Urbansocialight commenting in the background) of some disgruntled customers at the end of the night so peep that as well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Say NO to H.R. Bill 848

Ok, so I rarely actually submit text to the people. I like showing content more than opinions, but this one has called the attention for words. There is a new proposed bill H.R. 848 that will basically tax radio stations and have them pay royalties to play ANY music. Sounds like not such a big deal right? Think about it! Most indie radio stations and privately owned stations will fall peril to this type of government proposed extortion. Indie artists that means you will NEVER have a chance for your music to be played on broadcast. They are trying to slowly take away free artistic expression. I mean I know the internet is making these institutions suffer, but this is NOT the way about trying to restore a system that is run by dinosaurs that refused to see the around the curve of technology.

Here is the bill proposal:

Write to the sponsor of the bill John Conyers at: Tell him NO to H.R.848!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Diamond District: In The Ruff


00 Intro
01 Streets Wont Let Me Chill
02 Who I Be
03 Back To Basics
04 I Mean Business
05 Get In Line
06 In The Ruff
07 The Shining
08 The District
09 Make It Clear
10 Off The Late Night
11 Let Me Explain
12 First Time


In The Ruff is the highly anticipated debut album from new DC hip hop group "The Diamond District", created by state veterans Oddisee, X.O. & YU. In The Ruff is the answer for any lover of hip hop who asks the question - “Where did that grimy East coast sound go?”

The group was founded by rapper/ producer Oddisee, who has a long list of production & collaboration credits with the likes of Freeway, Talib Kweli, Saigon, Little Brother, Trek Life, Charles Hamilton, Jazzy Jeff, Buck Shot, Royce the 5'9'', Nikki Jean, Muhsinah, J-Live, Lil Fame of MOP, Skyzoo and many more. Oddisee's soulful, haunting samples over bass-heavy beat breaks create the perfect instrumentals for him, XO & YU to match with their street savvy, politically conscious lyrics.

"The ware wolves wear wool suits, be ware of them..."

In The Ruff is a raw mid-90's Boom-Bap themed album for the DC state of mind, destined to appeal to all lovers of hip hop's golden era, managing to travel back in time and push the boundaries of DC Hip-Hop simultaneously.

The Diamond District introduced themselves to the world this spring, with the first single "Who I Be" which dropped on March 17 2009, followed by the second single "I Mean Business" March 31 2009. The full album "In The Ruff" is now available for free download from their site on April 14, 2009 or through the links below.

Listen/ Download

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Diamond District - I Mean Business

"I Mean Business" by The Diamond District (Oddisee, X.O. & YU)

I Mean Business is the second single from DC Hip-Hop group The Diamond District.

Their full length debut album In The Ruff will be available for download from their website on April 14, 2009. Check the site for the mini documentary.

I Mean Business

Also check out the first single from theDiamond District
Who I Be

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

X.O. x YU x Oddissee make up The Diamond District

DC Hip Hop artists Oddisee, XO & YU are "The Diamond District". The Groups new single "Who I Be" is the first track off of the mid-90's Boom Bap themed album. The trio's album "In The Ruff" will be available for free download on their site April 14, 2009. Check out the first single "Who I Be" along with a mini Documentary about the new group on their site

"Who I Be"

Diamond District Mini Doc.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

RealMATIC review in The Washington Post

X.O.'s 'Realmatic' Marks the Spot

D.C. native X.O. has something for every fan.

The realest mix tape ever? That's the tag line D.C. rapper X.O. has given his latest project, "Realmatic." It's a gutsy move, as is giving the mix tape a title inspired by Nas's 1994 classic, "Illmatic." X.O. certainly doesn't seem to be plagued by self-doubt, but he's not just launching egotistical boasts: "Realmatic," a free download on the artist's MySpace page, works hard to live up to every lofty claim.

The Georgia Avenue rapper documents street life without glorifying it, digs into social issues without turning tracks into preachy lessons, and delivers smart, agile lyrics over inspired production. "Realmatic" is that rare work that has something for every hip-hop fan, whether their tastes tend toward hard-core street rap or a more socially conscious style. "Hands Up" sounds like a party, right down to its DJ Kool sample, but X.O. also delves into other situations where one may find himself with his hands in the air -- as when getting arrested. "I Made It" offers a subtle indictment of D.C. public schools, with the rapper recounting lessons learned and successes gained that had nothing to do with time spent in a classroom.

The tracks are expertly produced, with help from veteran beatmakers such as Judah ("I Made It"), along with up-and-comers Best Kept Secret and a production crew that has worked with everyone from Wale to Rhymefest. Best Kept Secret has a unique talent for building tracks around small snippets of go-go percussion that manage to be both subtle enough for ears unaccustomed by D.C.'s favored sound, yet substantial enough to appease true go-go fans.

It's a skill most evident on "Food 4 Thought," where the laid-back go-go groove highlights X.O. lines such as, "Find myself getting full/Gotta eat to live/Still giving food off my plate/That's where my weakness is."

Some of the rapper's most interesting efforts involve paying homage to classic hip-hop tracks while adding his own slant. "1 of Those Dayz," with its go-go drums and sharp horns, is like a D.C. version of Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day." "On the Creep" is a melancholy take on Biggie Smalls's "Gimme the Loot," with X.O. using two different voices to have a conversation about a robbery over a haunting track from Nex and Rio. It's a brilliant idea that's executed flawlessly -- just one indication that X.O. is on his way to becoming one of the city's top-rated MCs.

DOWNLOAD THESE: "Hands Up," "On the Creep," "Food 4 Thought"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Realmatic Update!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

X.O. realmatic Listening Party March 10th!!

Media Contact: OTB Management Group
Name: Renard Walker, Public Relations
Phone: 240-304-9244

“X.O. Prepares for Major Release of Realmatic Project”

Another Shining Moment for Hip Hop in D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC – March 10, 2008 – Rising hip hop star X.O. is prepping for his groundbreaking entrance into the mainstream music scene. His fifth project, titled “Realmatic”, will be digitally released on March 11. Fans will have a chance to experience the project at a release party hosted at the Major Store, 1426 WISCONSIN AVE. NW WASHINGTON, DC 20007, on March 10.

X.O. continues to earn recognition from major D.C. artists. In a recent interview with What artists in D.C. should fans be looking for? "Southeast Slim and X.O. Yeah. Southeast Slim, X.O., U.C.B...., I know I'm missing some people. There's a lot of people. There's a lot of great artists coming from this area. And definitely Tabi. Don't forget Tabi." says Wale (Allido/Interscope).

X.O. has been creating a buzz for himself since the release of his third project “The Takeover 2”, which received over 2,000 digital downloads. Here is a sample of some of his media reviews:

• “Washington Post Express”: The rhyme-slinger is determined to expose all dimensions of himself as a rapper — and as a person.

• “Washington City Paper”: A self described ’De La Wu/Tupac Pun,’ [X.O.’s] a witty, innovative lyricist who puts the D.C. street life in a unique perspective that has rarely been captured in hip-hop prose. … This is the work of a rising star putting his street experiences into a transformative experience.

Released on March, 11, 2009, “Realmatic” will be available for download at and


OTB Management Group located in N.W. Washington, D.C., represents the artist X.O. Please send all correspondence to or for further information about OTB and X.O. visit


Monday, February 16, 2009

The "Realmatic" Is Upon Us.....

The listening party is at the Major store!! Wisconsin and O St. NW in Georgetown, on March 10th!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chris Barz - You Cool (Prod. by Best Kept Secret)

Chris Barz is a veteran "new comer" the oximoron right! He's been around for a couple of years now making fire tracks, but this joint right here makes you wish it was summer already! Look forward to more from Barz!! Do yourself a favor and listen, TRUST

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chucky Thompson...CozyCreative.Com

Cozy Creative's Beats & Eats, Chucky Thompson from on Vimeo.

Benji x X.O.x Judahx Rocksmith

From My Man Benji (



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Naruto Shippuuden Episode 93

A little off, but I dig Japanimation. This is one of the best joints out now! Naruto Shippuuden.