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Uptown XO may be a newcomer by major label standards, however, he’s already traveled the nation and the world as one-third of the critically acclaimed Diamond District and released an arsenal of solo mixtapes capped off by his own latest free download, Monumental II.

Peep Hip-Hop Wired’s interview with XO and download Monumental II after the break…

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Uptown XO may be a newcomer by major label standards, however, he’s already traveled the nation and the world as one-third of the critically acclaimed Diamond District and released an arsenal of solo mixtapes capped off by his own latest free download, Monumental II.

The album, entirely produced by fellow Washingtonian, A.B. The Producer (as wasthe first set of the series), features his Diamond District comrades, yU and Odissee; a cadre of D.C.’s RN’s (that’s not a medical term); and keys, horns, and boom-bap arrangements that play like the soundtrack of the golden-era, hazy-hot summer that opens “Do The Right Thing.”

But barricading any riotous inclinations, the plot twists from the recollection of a life twice ravaged by the struggles of D.C.’s crack-cocaine era and more recent recession into a collection of philosophies on how to not just survive, but shine “…To inspire young people,” he told HipHopWired in an exclusive interview.

“I want them to learn to be entrepreneurs.” Or rather, “I remember the day like it was yesterday when you went to the clouds/And I ain’t send no one up to ya, proud/‘Cause I was young, quick to pull triggers, loud/mouthin’, almost ended up wit ya. How/the hell niggas ended up doing well and be surrounded by murder niggas in and out of the jail cell?/I’m here for a reason,” he declares on the “Intro” track.

Hip-Hop Wired: How is XO as a soloist different from XO with Diamond District?

XO:  Basically you’re going to hear more songs about me and my life and my experiences more so than I get to elaborate on my songs with Diamond District where it’s just one verse… you get my life and what I do, fully.

Hip-Hop Wired:  Speaking about that life, you rap a lot about DC’s transitions from Murder Capital through Gentrification Capital; why is it important to soundtrack this perspective?

XO:  It’s historical. I’m a Washingtonian, you know, someone has to tell about these times the way we can relate to it so we can remember and acknowledge it.

Uptown XO – “Crabs In A Barrell”

Hip-Hop Wired:  You’ve traveled a lot, nationally, internationally, is it different being a Washingtonian than being from a ‘hood elsewhere?

XO:  I would say that it’s different being a Washingtonian, but everywhere I go it’s people with ambition and drive and people that are pursuing their dreams. So it’s different being where I’m from and going through the experiences that made who I am here, but everywhere I go it’s like I can still relate to people because it’s something in us.

Hip-Hop Wired:  Speaking of dreams, your Monumental II listening session was the same week as the unveiling of the MLK memorial. What are your thoughts on that monument, the only non-President, African-American bestowed such an honor?

XO:  I say, it’s about time. It’s about time that MLK got recognized for what he’s done for our culture… we have so far to go – Black folks – that memorial is a reminder of what he’s about. We can never forget that.

Hip-Hop Wired:  What is XO’s greatest dream?

XO:  I want to inspire people to be positive and pursue their dream and be on the straight and narrow path. As far as being in the streets, it’s not really the way to go … I want people to learn from the experiences, learn from the examples of things that older generations have done and look at the consequences and learn from that and take it to the next level. I want to inspire people to embrace being intelligent.

Hip-Hop Wired:  Monumental II definitely has more of an old head vibe to it than the first set. What inspired that?

XO:   That’s how I was feeling at that point in time. …You know how we used to read the “Goosebumps” books back in the day, you know about ‘em?

Hip-Hop Wired:  I know about ‘em.

Uptown XO – “I Got Doe”

XO:  It’s like the kids can’t keep reading “Goosebumps.” As we get older, we not going to be reading that, so we need to inspire the kids when they get to a certain age to start seeking information on a more mature level, so like even with the music. I’m not going to dumb it down, you have to step up to get with it.

Hip-Hop Wired:  Ever growing, I saw on your Twitter [@uptownxo] you already have another project in the works, another solo project?

XO:  Yup.

Uptown XO – “Don’t Stop”

Hip-Hop Wired:  Are there any Diamond District projects coming down the line?

XO:  Yeah we have a new album coming out called The March on Washington, early next year, something like that.

Hip-Hop Wired:  Since we did bring it back to that historical mode, what do you recommend for an entrepreneur to make their dreams come true?

XO:  You got to build up a thick skin … and you gotta just keep going and persevere. You got to have those qualities. And, I would eliminate the sense of doubt. When you don’t have any doubt and you don’t think about the downfalls – of course you’re going think smart as you go along and consider the possibility and have plans A and B, and things to work your way out of things that may not happen the way you want to – keep going and never stop; that’s what I’m doing.

Download Monumental 2 Here

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