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So far this cycle, D.C.’s would-be mayors have leaned on Top 40 songs for their campaign kick-off music. Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal launched his bid a little differently, in the back room of Ben’s Chili Bowl this morning: The event started with a bongo drums entrance (including some beats from Shallal himself), then a call-and-response rap from poet Bomani D. Armah.

“Make some noise for Andy Shallal,” Bomani rapped. “And make D.C. a city for all.”

Shallal tossed out a number of policy ideas, from weeks-long programs to improve students’ social skills to lowering the voting age to 17. He struck broader tones too, saying the District needs to work for residents pushed out by gentrification.

While he backed an effort this year to limit D.C. campaign contributions to $100, Shallal said he will accept corporate contributions to his campaign, unlike mayoral rival Tommy Wells

Boxing promoter-turned-radio host Rock Newman spent much of his introduction for Shallal reading an email he sent to Shallal after hearing he was considering his mayoral run. While noting that, at the very least, his candidacy would, Newman warned him to make sure he wanted the job. “Be sure you are not a lady who wants a great wedding,” Newman read, “but really doesn’t desire all the responsibility of being married.”

Newman promised the crowd in his introduction that Shallal would be free of the “cesspool” of District politics. That’s despite Shallal’s chairmanship of now-convicted ex-councilmember Michael A. Brown‘s 2012 re-election campaign (Shallal says he didn’t know Brown was corrupt while chairing the campaign).

Shallal, who supports Vince Gray enough that he previously suggested he’d be willing to drop out of the race if the mayor ran, nevertheless took some digs at Gray in his speech. Among them: Gray’s passion for announcing in speeches the increasing number of construction cranes in the city. “I believe we not only need to count the number of cranes we have, but ask whether those cranes do anything for the people,” Shallal says.

Photo by Will Sommer