The Breaks: This Week in DMV Hip-Hop
In August’s first installment of the Breaks, I consider the runaway power of Shy Glizzy’s street anthem "Awwsome," a posse cut from producer local export Tittsworth, the introduction of Rob Regal, and some new Black Cobain featuring Wale.
The Awesome Power of Shy Glizzy’s "Awwsome"
I’ll admit it—I thought it was just going to be another local hit. However, the D.C. rapper’s triumphant ode to his own greatness slowly seeped out of the area, gaining national traction. I was wrong, so very wrong.
It actually surprised me that so many of my New York friends not only knew the song, but knew every word. Then, Chris Brown—looking like a gang member lost at sea—posted a video of he and a friend dancing to the song aboard a boat on his Instagram page. It’s arguably the assist of the year.
Bolstering the song’s rapid rise in popularity was L.A.’s DJ Mustard, who dropped it at the Blind Whino last Saturday to widespread crowd satisfaction. The song has gone national, drawing the attention of superstars.
DJ Heat, the bottomless source of wisdom that she is, spoke to the song’s slow-burning success on Twitter.
DMV artists, I always stress how if you have a single you want to pop, please prepare to spend several months to a year pushing it ...
— DJ Heat (@DJHeatDC) July 31, 2014
...Shy Glizzy's single is a perfect example of pushing a single until it reaches levels outside of just the DMV area. Please take note.
— DJ Heat (@DJHeatDC) July 31, 2014
She’s absolutely right. "Awwsome" appeared on Shy Glizzy’s Young Jefe mixtape, which was released in February. It’s dominated the DMV’s clubs and lounges since then, and his team continued to promote it until it caught ears outside of the area. If nothing else, it’s infectious, so anyone who hears it can’t help but bounce to it just a little bit—especially when fueled by liquor at 2 a.m. All it takes is an unfamiliar ear and an open mind to help a record take off.
DJ Heat also advised record labels to take heed of the magnetic pull Shy Glizzy has cultivated. Wale has blossomed into a superstar and Fat Trel's joined him on Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group team. He and Virginia’s GoldLink (who’s garnered significant national claim in just a matter of months) will probably be the next to rocket out of the DMV hip-hop scene. It would be awesome if Glizzy took off with them.
The Party Continues After the Dance
Tittsworth, the DJ, producer, and co-owner of U Street Music Hall who’s spread his wings musically since relocating to the West Coast, created a low-key after-hours anthem with "After the Dance." The legendary Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest and New York’s Theophilus London give the song a very lost-in-New-York-at-4 a.m. vibe, but singer Allison Carney’s breathy vocals on the chorus give it a dreamy vibe. It’s a bit of a return to Q-Tip’s "Groove Is in the Heart" days, but he’s more seasoned now. He’s no longer some kid from Queens; he’s the Abstract, and Tittsworth was wise to assemble this talented blend of musicians for a song that goes just as hard at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon as it does on 4 a.m. Saturday morning.
Farewell Lyriciss, Enter Rob Regal
Lyriciss is gone, but Rob Regal lives on. The P.G. County native changed his moniker, but on "The Reflection," his rhymes are just as sharp and he’s wise as ever. Music industry dealings have made Rob Regal weary, something you can hear in his voice and see in his eyes in Matt Sugawara’s crisp video. "Hunger made a nigga learn what a bad decision is/Aiming for the top I had to learn what precision is" he rhymes over the beat for TDE’s Isaiah Rashad’s "I Shot You Down." He’s seen a lot; it’s weathered him and given him a new perspective—that’s what "The Reflection" is about. The name is different, but he’s the same artist. This should build anticipation for his EP of the same name, which is due out in September.
From the Archives of Black Cobain
Virginia’s Black Cobain grabbed Wale for his latest, "Lost Files." The two trade verses over an intense beat on a song that’s basically like a one-on-one competition, basketball references and all. "I cross ‘em over quick/Iverson with the rap," Cobain says on the song's opening verse.
Wale also showed the versatility that’s made him a radio darling, appearing on Magazeen’s "My Town" this week, as well.