Tag Archives: rap

weekend roll out: andre nickatina, “conversation with a devil”

6 Apr

I openly admit that 90% of my musical knowledge is not due to my own research, but gleaned from culturally aware friends. If I hadn’t been lucky enough (/smart enough) to surround myself with supremely cool (/nerdy) audiophile friends from a young age, I’d be nowhere.

However, if there’s one genre where I’ve learned more from the internet than my friends, it’s rap. In that regard, Datpiff is my best friend. I’ve had a few key contributors to my rap collection over the years, but more often I’m the person pushing rap among my friends, not vice versa.

Luckily, that’s changed a bit recently, as I’ve made friends with a kid who fills some big white space in my rap/hip-hop knowledge: west coast rap. If my overall rap knowledge is average, my west coast awareness is barely mediocre. This kid, however, knows what’s up. Actually, that’s a huge understatement; he pretty much knows everything about rap, but he also has excellent taste. I know that the stuff he hypes will always be strong.

Enter Andre Nickatina, a rapper from said friend’s neck of the woods: northern Cali, specifically the Bay Area. Little did I know that not only has Andre been performing under the name Dre Dog for nearly two decades (he debuted with The New Jim Jones in 1993), but he is also considered a local legend in San Fran. His catalog is crazy extensive and rife with solid gold gangsta rap- straightforward rhyming with some funkified beats where necessary. I’m posting the song that I can’t get out of my head above all others, but there is so, so much good stuff where this came from.

My name is Nicki, but you can call me Dre- what up? Roll out.

Andre Nickatina, “Conversation with a Devil”


two bars three stars: the DC hip-hop history project

4 Jan

In my short time as a DC resident, I’ve become increasingly perplexed at the obvious lack of successful, influential rappers from the District. This is the Chocolate City, after all; why would a city so rich in Black culture fail to contribute to the vast canon of Golden Age hip-hop that defined New York and L.A. in the early 90s? Why didn’t a niche scene emerge akin to those in Detroit and Houston? Why did it take so long for a rapper as famous as Wale to rhyme about DC? My friends, these are the questions that keep me awake at night—and my half-baked hypotheses and research are best left to a different post for a different day.

These same questions are now being discussed through the recently launched DC Hip-Hop History Project. The project, sponsored by FWMJ’s Rappers I Know—a.k.a. the website credited for breaking new artists like Jay Electronica and Little Brother—involves radio host Jamie Benson interviewing notable local musicians to tell the story of the DC hip hop scene.

The project’s first podcast debuted today, in which DC artists yU and Kokayi join Benson to interview The Unspoken Heard, a prominent DC hip hop duo comprised of rappers Asheru and Blue Black. The group discusses how life in the DMV fostered their development as hip-hop artists, including an entertaining anecdote about Asheru’s experience writing the Boondocks theme song (~minute 42).

 The guys also recount the roadblocks for DC rappers to fully capitalize on the Golden Age; Kokayi states, “I can go back to a time when being an MC in DC was not a popular thing. If you rapped, the connotation was that you were trying to act like you were from New York.” (Here I was thinking the DC-NY inferiority complex started with the influx of hipsters in 2008…nah, apparently this conundrum has deep roots).

The interview is quintessentially DC in so many ways: not only do Asheru and Blue Black talk about finding their sound in the underground scene around U Street and their work with local music coalitions like Guerilla Arts, they also discuss their University of Virginia educations (wahoowa stand up) and their impressive professional endeavors (~minute 35). Yes, in this city, even our rappers have master’s degrees in IT. Welcome to DC.