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Congrats for almost repeating the story that was written about Fugazi ruining the D.C. music scene (“Rhyme and Punishment,” 1/23). Hiphoppers from D.C. get the same amount of love as musicians in other genres in this town. Is it really that big of a surprise in a town where the “hippest” thing to do (meaning that there will be girls there) is to go listen to New Wave music that came out when I was in junior high. (Or, of course, you can brave the crowds at one of those cheesy clubs where people are waiting in hopes that someone famous will show up.) It is no wonder that MCs and DJs have to toil along with the rest of the D.C. musicians trying to get some kind of respect from even our own audience.
As a musician, I have scratched and clawed my way through this town’s scene for many years, always on the verge of something, but never quite getting there. One has to play in three different bands (the Hipnotix, Roots-a-Rizin’, Gregor & the McGregors), plus do freelance recordings and gigs and work full time just to be able to afford to move back in with the parents in the ’burbs.
D.C., it seems, will always be the town of go-go and Fugazi/Minor Threat to the recording industry. Major labels are a lost cause unless you can produce quarterly results. Radio is just as bad; you could be best buddies with a DJ, and he still couldn’t play your record on the air without corporate approval. Our audience here is very transient. It’s not like Baltimore, where people stay for many generations. I think that has much to do with the situation.
None of this is because of lack of skills. Our hiphoppers and other musicians are just as good as, if not better than, many major acts. Head-Roc is one of my favorite MCs. We’ll just have to do what any other D.C. groups do: tour Europe, Canada, and Middle America, where people still care about music and not so much about a scene. What do you say, Heady?