For the love of Hip Hop! Five Men, One Powerful City

Living in the DC Metro area, sometimes it can seem that the music scene is a little blah. Sure, there’s go-go, that ubiquitous musical child of DC that many of us non-natives just can’t get into. And sure there is Wale, who we all know and love. But is there a DC metro sound? Maybe not, but who says each geographic location has to have a sound. Lack of a unified sound does not mean that DC is short on hip hop and rap talent.

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by Signed to Myself (S2M). Headed by rapper Matta Fact, S2M is all about spreading some positive vibes with their music. While attending the event at Busboys and Poets, my first thought was an oft-quoted line from Kanye’s first album, “Though the fans want the feeling of a Tribe Called Quest, all they got left is this guy called West.”

While few would say Kanye is still holding himself to this standard, going into rap and hip hop shows I always have that feeling that perfection would be that Tribe Called Quest vibe. That fun, lyrical, socially conscious vibe. Rarely is my dream fulfilled. With this show though, the camaraderie and love for rap as a pure art form was there.

Left to right: MC Logic, Matta Fact and Xander J on stage. Photo credit: Michelle Strother
Left to right: MC Logic, Matta Fact and Xander J on stage.
Photo credit: Michelle Strother

All Northern Virginians – Xander J, MC Logic, Rafik, and Matta Fact, played to the crowd, supported each other and genuinely enjoyed their video premiere and live performance.

The video premiered was for the song “Powerful City,” which weaves a tale of corruption and the struggle for and abuse of power. The video was shot againist the backdrop of the District of Columbia. How fitting.

Left to right: Rafik, Me, MC Logic (in the back), Matta Fact, Xander J. Photo credit: Michelle Strother
Left to right: Rafik, Me, MC Logic (in the back), Matta Fact, Xander J.
Photo credit: Michelle Strother

After the show, I got a chance to talk to them and here is what they had to say.

My first question to all of them was how they came to love rap and which artists have influenced them.

Matta Fact: “I’ve been an artist all my life.” Matta Fact said he has had an interest in fine arts since childhood and music is just one of the many outlets he has. Among his influences are Gordon Parks, Jay-Z, and the Harlem Renaissance.

Xander J: Growing up in rural Harrisonburg, VA, Xander J’s first encounter with hip hop was via a college radio station. Since then he’s been hooked. He counts Mob Deep, WuTang Clan, and Outkast among his influences (all are evident when you watch his performance.)

Rafik: He started out writing poetry and said that as he got older decided to try rapping. Good job Rafik, you’re succeeding. Among his influences are Outkast, Ice Cube, A Tribe Called Quest, and Nas.

MC Logic: MC Logic (full disclosure, I work with this guy!) has been rapping for years and counts Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest among his greatest influences.

I can’t deny it. These guys had a good flow and Rafik’s delivery is just sick. In such a good way. Xander J and MC Logic were both animated onstage and the lyrical prowess of both men was pretty good. Xander J was surprisingly good. Do not let the red sneakers and hat fool you, he’s the real deal.

Matta Fact is definitely a mature lyricist and rapper and he knows this. Listen to his album here.

All of the guys were confident and very nice to talk to after their premiere was over. Since this is a blog focusing on hair, I had to ask the guys how they feel about natural hair.

Xander J’s response? He hates weave. Hates it! He’s not a fan of crazy colors either. Matta Fact agreed saying it is a beautiful thing seeing women embrace their natural hair textures. “I love natural hair,” he said. Adding that when it comes to hair, less is more, “I like art, but on my wall,” he said.

You can hear Matta Fact’s latest, “Mr. Sunshine,” here.

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