While many think NYC, ATL, LA and Chi-Town are the only major cities in hip-hop, another area has been bubbling and is ready to turn the corner. With artists like Wale, Goldlink and Logic, the DMV has proven they have something to say.
Recently, Fête Records and Noble People created an incredible documentary on the DMV region. Thecomeupradio linked with film director Undine Markus to discuss the landscape of the DMV scene, the creative process of putting together the documentary and more. – Deanner Campbell
Thecomeupradio: When did the DMV project start?
We started planning the project around March and shot in August last year. As we were working with no budget, our team ended up having to shoot it all within just 3 days.
TCUR: What Inspired you to do the project? Why did you choose Washington D.C?
Based in London, I had not visited the DMV until the conception of the project. Although I had been following the likes of GoldLink, Jay IDK, Phil Ade, and Innanet James from distance, I had failed to piece it all together and see that they’ve originated from the same area. Here, in the UK, only NYC, LA and Atlanta are viewed as the musical meccas of the US. I find that often the talent operating outside those scenes gets covered in a highly isolated manner that focuses on their individual journey, often downplaying the role of their local community and context.
As Abhimanyu and I were speaking about the local scene and he introduced me to more names from the area, we felt that the DMV was really on the cusp of approaching a true momentum. We wanted to latch on to the opportunity to document the local community of recording artists and producers, tracing their influences and hearing about their vision for the area.
As for Abhimanyu, who has co-founded a record label in DC, Fête Records, it was important to shed light on the local scene on an international level, as well as explore the sonic influences of some of the most acclaimed names from the region. Investigating the lineage of go-go and the impact it’s had on the current rhythm structures and use of instruments was something the project tried to pay a lot of attention to.
Overall, the goal was to give the emerging and established talent a space to talk about the importance of collaboration. We hope that to at least some extent, the conversations we’ve had throughout the documentary might inspire the collectives as well as the emerging talent in the area to join forces and promote the DMV scene as a whole (which we’ve seen a lot more of during the past 9-10 months).
TCUR: Why do you believe that Washington D.C. or the DMV hasn’t found a sound that represents that district fully? Is go-go the sound of the area?
I think it’s always had its unique sound, it’s now more about getting the word out there.
It’s amazing to see someone like GoldLink incorporate references to go-go on such a level with records such as At What Cost. We hope there’ll be more of those in the coming year. There seems to be a ton of new talent, not just recording artists but also producers, reaching the international level this year.
TCUR: In the future do you envision the documentary spreading its wings to cover the South, LA, or New York?
We would love to follow the DMV talent on their tours in the respective cities! As for now, we’re focusing on developing the project further and really giving area the treatment it deserves, as opposed to shifting our focus to a different topic or region. Once it’s done, we’d be keen to branch out and cover other emerging scenes across the country.
TCUR: Are there any other artists other than Wale who have inspired newer artist in the DMV with their music?
It seems like everyone within the current scene inspires one another, not just the generations that have come before them but Wale definitely played a major role in terms of setting one of the first benchmarks for the area on a national and international scale.
TCUR: Do you have a social media account where we can reach you?
@undinemarkus (IG and Twitter)
@manyuj (IG and Twitter)
@fetedela (IG and Twitter)
@Noble_People (IG and Twitter)
TCUR: Is there anything you would like to share that we have missed?
The documentary was showcased in NYC and London as part of screening parties set up by our respective labels, Fête Records (fetedela.com) and Noble People (www.noblepeople.london)