WASHINGTON — Beyond the brutalist architecture and crumbling transit system, there’s a music scene in D.C. filled with variety and talent.
Whether you’re looking for head-banging guitars or soulful crooning, you’ll find it here.
Some of the artists on this list no longer live in the D.C. area, but have spent some formative years here. Others are still rocking the local music scene.
Editor’s note: Many of the songs may contain explicit lyrics.
Rico Nasty, Kelow LaTesha, Chelly the MC, Ace Cosgrove, Shy Glizzy/Jefe, Dawkins, Kali Uchis, NAPPYNAPPA, Sugg Savage, Odd Mojo, G.U.M.P. and Sneaks.
Aaron Abernathy, “Dialogue”
D.C.-based musician Aaron “Ab” Abernathy originally hails from the Midwest, but dug his musical roots into the District after graduating from Howard University. With years of musical experience behind him, “Dialogue” doesn’t waste any time establishing his brand of soul and funk as he centers his reality living as a black American man today. With religious elements and audio snippets from activists Angela Davis and Rev. Ralph David Abernathy — the artist’s relative — it’s an album meant to challenge and spark, ahem, dialogue.
As Abernathy sings with a mesmerizing flow: “You know the people / The victims of systemic evil / And it’s been going on for centuries / That white supremacy / That no equality / That store clerk in the store that follows me / Along with police brutality / And we’re fed up / And all lives matter is a setup.”
Bacchae, “Down the Drain”
If you don’t have immediate access to a damp, crowded basement and sweaty friends, D.C. post-punk band Bacchae basically convey that essence. So, if you’ve congealed to your office chair, bring yourself back to life with the crashing guitars and sultry bass coursing through this thrilling debut.
Mock Identity, “4 Songs”
D.C. punk band Mock Identity formed in 2016, but several of its members have already been involved in the local music scene. So even though “4 Songs” is their first release together, it has a polish and cohesiveness that most new bands have to stumble around first to find. Get ready to rage against harassers and sleazeballs (“No Means No”) but also affirm your existence (“Rewind”). Listen to lead singer Adriana-Lucia Cotes tussle with winding guitar lines and thumping drums as Mock Identity continues a very D.C. tradition.
Curious to see last year’s list? Take a look at it here. And take a look at the top songs and top music videos of 2016.
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