Jamal Anthony Walton (known as XO), an uptown DC native, 1/3 of the Diamond District, part of Studio 43 Family and a solo artist, has been making serious noise in the District (that’s Washington, DC if you live under a rock). He has earned his success in what outsiders may call the “underground music” scene in DMV hip hop. He came into the music armed with a musical background including influences from various musicians, as well as his parents who were a part of the Howard University marching band.
“I grew up in an era where people really took pride in music and that instilled in me a great appreciation for music.” He has only been in music for the past five years, but his music is known far beyond the metropolitan area of DC. XO has been consistently hitting the DMV with some of tightest bars in the game. In 2009 XO teamed up with fellow rappers Oddisee and Y.U. which forms “Diamond District” and released the pre-Grammy nominated Best Hip Hop Album “In the Ruff”. His fellow rap mates also helped him with his solo efforts.
XO has a track history of making good music. His music can be best described as fusion of soulfulness and grittiness. Through his lyrics you can get a visual of what life is like coming up in the DMV. With so many back to back projects (see discography below), XO created a buzz that floated beyond DC’s streets. Last year he flooded the internet with his classic single “All I Had”, accompanying it with a well-received animated video and the Monumental mixtape, received over 60K downloads. Following this he dropped One One Ten and the Diamond District’s In the Ruff.
With his group the Diamond District, XO recently toured in seven countries and ten cities. “When we was over there (oversees) it was beautiful. We got catered to; a lot of the promoters were fans of the music. When we were over in Italy we were seeing posters of Diamond District, right by the Colosseum. We didn’t even do any videos for that album. We didn’t get any major radio play. This was organic; people just liking the music. They liked my solo music as well. It was crazy. I was in Paris and people recognized me. They knew stuff from my One One Ten album, and it had just come out! They were requesting songs of my mixtape. It was shocking for me. We went to Germany, Switzerland, Berlin, Belgium, etc.; we were getting love wherever we went. When we came back to the States we toured the west coast; they also knew our music. The music is bigger than DC.”
XO’s believes in continuously working hard and making good music. Not many rap artists out of the District have received worldwide success (with the exception of Wale, which is a good friend and label mate via Studio 43). Next up for XO is Monumental Volume 2; hip hop heads better get familiar. This artist is a major component in the “DMV takeover” of the hip hop game. Tweet XO @uptownxo. Follow him on Facebook www.facebook.com/xouptown