DC Killin': Bridging the Gaps of the District's Subcultures

When I first moved to Washington, I heard plenty about “the two DCs:” two disparate cultures, ostensibly with transient denizens of the Capitol Hill-K Street-Georgetown axis on one hand and native Washingtonians on the other. The separation was cultural and economic, with racial undertones. The reality, as with all generalizations, is much more complicated.

DC is a creative class city. Even the Wall Street Journal knows that. With residents of every national and international origin, DC has developed a multitude of cultures. As a whole, the District rejects homogeneity and is all the better for it (the same can’t be said for some of its parts, i.e. the aforementioned Capitol Hill-K Street-Georgetown axis, but I digress). And while this fragmentation has let scenes develop for every individual taste, pigeonholing not seen since high school lunch tables keeps apart people who should be socializing, communicating, and most importantly, partying.

It may be ambitious, but the new monthly getdown All Killer No Filler aims to end this, at least partially, by bridging the gap between the urban and alternative dance scenes, whose aesthetic and musical tastes have more in common than not.

Joint Chiefs, the cultural Voltron of Winston Ford of The Couch Sessions, Sonya Collins of The Glass House and Marcus Dowling of True Genius Requires Insanity, three of DC’s leading tastemakers and trend-spotters, planned, executed and hosted the inaugural All Killer No Filler on Thursday, October 1 at Liv Nightclub (2001 11th Street NW).

The evening began with two of DCs finest DJs on the turntables, spinning tunes guaranteed to get the crowd of early-adopters ready for an exciting night. First up was DJ Cam Jus, whose inventive mixes and eclectic musical tastes make him a perfect fit for everyone in this crowd. This is a selector on the rise: check out his excellent edits of Nike Boots and Bang for a taste of his style. Next up, the ever-present DC DJ Trevor Martin (Sneakers in the Club /$weat$hop), spinning hip-hop hits from ’89 to ’09. These tunes are tried and true – who doesn’t sing along when “Juicy” comes on?

Just as Liv’s bar and dance floor started to fill up, it was time for the night’s featured performer: up-and-comer RAtheMC (Strange Music). Here’s an artist who truly embodies All Killer No Filler’s ideals: a rapper-slash-singer whose skills on the mic are undeniable, who still tries to push things forward with fashion and style. Ra, backed by live drums and keys, wasted no time, rapping over “Uptown” and “D.O.A” before performing her own songs.

Any female musician who brings a combination of rapping and singing will be unfairly compared to Lauryn Hill (see: Estelle, every article about). Luckily, this doesn’t discourage Ra, whose re-working of Ms. Hill’s “Lost Ones” is a highlight of her set (check out the brand new video for this track). Ra definitely takes the MC part of moniker seriously, engaging the crowd every second she’s on stage. And as someone who had braces, I can’t imagine rapping with that much metal in your mouth (okay, so it’s no “Through the Wire” accomplishment, but nothing to sneer at). Her new mixtape, the Twitter-inspired “Trending Topics,” drops on October 6 and features production by Mick Boogie and DC’s own Judah (on the beat).

Accompanying Ra was frequent collaborator Mz. Mimz, whose mixtape “Thoughts While Getting Dressed” introduced DC to its newest soul chanteuse. Her sound reminds me of another DC R&B singer, Wayna. Hopefully, All Killer introduced the audience to another Next Big Thing.

Closing out the night were two of DC’s most in-demand DJs, Steve Starks and Nacey, who wasted no time in dropping the hottest in club/electro/dance bangers guaranteed to keep the crowd’s energy up. From their own songs (“Lose Your Love”) to brand new tracks (Duck Sauce’s “aNYway”) to the classics (Ghost City DJs’ “My Boo”), these are songs that if you’re not dancing, you may be broken.

Anyone who’s spent some time in the District knows there are more than just “two DCs:” there are countless subcultures and scenes, with something for everyone. But between the promotion the Joint Chiefs are known for, and the word-of-mouth growth similar events have garnered, All Killer No Filler is sure to change that, for the better.

Upset you missed one hell of a party? See you on November 5 for an All Killer No Filler guaranteed to push the limits of what a DC party can be.

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