Last Friday morning, D.C. music veteran Kokayi seemed elated to break the news: “yo @oddisee @yuthe78er @uptownxo did y’all know your album is on the Grammy pre-nom list? for Best album..congrats!” he typed on Twitter. By that night, Oddisee, yU, and X.O.—-collectively known as The Diamond District—-all reacted differently on their respective accounts.
Oddisee, the group’s founder, was more tempered, simply retweeting Kokayi’s announcement, then typing his own version of the news. yU, whose Before Taxes album also made the Pre-Grammy nomination list this year, thanked a host of artists who helped his group along the way. X.O.’s first response, a caps lock proclamation to celebrate with his label head Kenny Burns, gave way to more subtle excitement when he realized the group wasn’t actually nominated for a Grammy. “YALL LUCKY I DONT DRINK NOMORE…LMAO!” X.O. typed.
But while its Grammy nom isn’t official, the trio is now one step away from making the final cut. Recording academy members, industry players, and, well, anyone else can submit names for the pre-nomination list—-those artists’ recordings are then sent to academy members. The pre-nomination list isn’t public, but as an academy member, Kokayi would’ve been able to get his hands on one.
Speaking yesterday, Diamond District’s members said they’re honored by the Grammys’ recognition of the group’s In The Ruff album from last year, but it won’t influence the direction of their next album, March On Washington, which is in production. (During an interview, Oddisee says he’s already recorded “six or seven” beats for the project.)
“You don’t think an institution like the Grammys would pay attention to indie music in the first place, so to be recognized is a great feeling,” said Oddisee, adding that he learned the news from Kokayi’s tweet.
The MC/producer also says that he doesn’t pay attention to mainstream music, and that he was “extremely surprised” by the nomination. “I’m a business man, but to my fundamental core, I still stick my middle finger up to the industry,” Oddisee said with a laugh.
yU has made the pre-nomination list once before, and said he has “mixed feelings” about the recognition. “In some ways, you feel as though indie hip-hop doesn’t get to that level, but to be recognized means we must be doing something right,” yU said.
X.O., who will release Monumental 2 next year, is apparently still beaming from the news. “I was shocked, then I thought, ‘Wow, we deserve this,'” he said. “This is good music that has spread. They can’t force these things on us no more with radio. We’re going against the grain, and it’s working.”