Hailing from "the DMV" (the nickname for the Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland area), hip-hip trio Diamond District formed with the intent of creating music that both drew from mid-'90s East Coast hip-hop à la De La Soul, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and Gang Starr music that showcased the often overlooked Washington, DC rap scene. Comprised of two MCs, X.O. and yU, and producer/MC Oddisee (who has also released a handful of solo albums and produced tracks for Jazzy Jeff, among others, and is part of the Low Budget Crew with Kev Brown, Kenn Starr, and Cy Young), the group first introduced themselves to the hip-hop community by releasing a series of singles in the late '00s. In April, 2009 Diamond District put out the clean version of their debut full-length, In the Ruff, for free music blogs, and garnered enough press and attention from it that they were able to approach hip-hop label Mello Music Group with evidence of their fan base and why they should be signed. It worked, and the label released the unedited version of In the Ruff in October, 2009 with plans for a follow-up, titled March on Washington, to appear the next year. ~ Marisa Brown
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