billy woods
billy woods; Credit: Pepi Kobab

“I grew up on the line ’tween north and south/ I-95, two airports, triangular trade routes,” raps New York MC billy woods on “Sauvage,” from his 2022 solo album, Aethiopes. Since his birth in D.C. and his youth in Zimbabwe, woods has become one of the top voices of New York City’s underground hip-hop scene. His career spans two decades, 10 solo LPs, and his acclaimed collaboration with ELUCID to form Armand Hammer, his duo project under the banner of his own Backwoodz Studioz label. D.C. is just one point on the trade routes woods traces on Aethiopes, a full-length collaboration with producer Preservation and an exploration of the African diaspora and the far-reaching, time-warping implications of colonialism. In abstract noir sonic settings, woods’ verses ping-pong from the Congo to the Caribbean and from Harlem, New York, to Haarlem, Netherlands, as regimes turn over and destructive cycles spin on through generations. Even in a catalog as deep and historically minded as his, Aethiopes has all the makings of a magnum opus, with woods operating at the peak of his power and gravitas as a performer. billy woods plays at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 at DC9 in Northwest. $16–$18. 

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