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It’s been five years since the Diamond District released its stellar—dare I say classic?—debut album, In the Ruff, an astute depiction of young black Washington. Rappers Oddisee, Uptown XO and yU cut through the national euphoria of ushered in by President Barack Obama‘s new administration, by discussing the civic plight occuring just blocks from the White House. The rats. The tenements. The hustle.
A lot has happened since then: In 2010, Oddisee—the group’s leader—moved to Brooklyn, and made national strides with Rock Creek Park, a mostly instrumental album of evocative soul that channeled the producer’s bike rides through the D.C. landmark. XO has released a solid stream of mix tapes—namely The Color Grey and Monumental II—and is finishing a new project with AB the Pro called EALU (Everybody Ain’t Like Us). yU continues to make great, soulful music: 2010’s the EARN shunned monetary excess, and his forthcoming album—People of Today with producer SlimKat78—offers a widespread dissection of himself and society as a whole.
Out today, “First Step”—premiered by HipHopDX—is the triumphant first single from the Diamond District’s new album, March on Washington. It marks a striking return for the locally revered trio and recalls the boom-bap aesthetic that made In the Ruff so gritty. “Who else could do it, you know it’s only them,” XO proclaims at the onset. “Back like the rapture, still doing it for the capital.” As usual, yU shrugs off any sense of entitlement: “I push forward knowing that don’t nobody owe Mike shit.” (Michael is yU’s real name.)
Oddisee, who composed the instrumental, offers the song’s lasting takeaway: “DMV, where we known as the greats, keep up with the pace.” March on Washington is out Oct. 14 on Mello Music Group. Stream “First Step” after the jump.