Track Work: Diamond District, ‘First Step’

By Harold Stallworth


Five years after the D.C.-rooted hip-hop trio unveiled its acclaimed full-length debutDiamond District is gearing up to drop its followup on Oct. 14. The newly released lead single “First Step” is just that—the initial stride toward March on Washington, the sophomore effort from the reunited trio of Uptown XO, yU and Oddisee.

The 14-track project was recorded over two weeks in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, where the group’s founder and lone producer, Largo native Oddisee, now lives. While the group’s earlier work expressed a commitment to boom-bap, “First Step” negotiates a sweet spot between hard-nosed hip-hop and electronic funk—a testament to Oddisee’s creative growth. Lyrically, the record isn’t as politically charged as its title would lead you to believe.

“It’s definitely not about the march back in the day,” says yU. “It’s about inspiring folks to keep pushing. A lot of people strive for trophies, but won’t even go the full length. They want the end result before it’s time. And this is more so us saying that we’re pushing on.”