Washington, D.C.'s Tabi Bonney is leading a quiet revolution within his hometown's musical landscape. Along with Wale, another breakout rap star, his hit single "The Pocket" has been crucial to the Dirty District's maturation as a hip-hop force, ready to step out of go-go music's chokehold on his city's identity.
"I think everything really depends on the right timing, and that time is now," says Bonney, 28. "The Pocket" is an infectious ode to the ladies and their uncanny ability to get a brother sprung, and the scratch-heavy, DJ-friendly track has D.C.'s radio and club scene on fire with its laid-back knock and irrepressible swagger.
It's also rife with Beltway slang, and Bonney breaks down some of the more popular catch phrases, like "bammas." "The initial definition means someone who's not cool," he explains. "Calling someone 'young' is the same as calling them dog, man or son. Another word we use is 'joe'--it pretty much means the same thing. 'Carry' is when someone disrespects you, or turns you down."
Bonney's debut album A Fly Guy's Theme was released locally but recently found a home on iTunes, and the Internet's power doesn't escape the artist. "That's been my main tool and weapon," he says. "I have people in the Netherlands buying my music digitally and I've never been there. It's honestly hard work and requires some business savvy."
"Nowadays you have to be more than just an artist to be successful," Bonney continues. "When all is said and done, good music is undeniable. For me it was a combination of timing, knowing the right people and being consistent. You have to have style and something unique about you. Most rappers sound alike and look alike, and therefore never get noticed."
Standing out from the pack isn't a problem for Bonney, and his eventual legacy isn't lost on him either.
"I think I'm bringing original creativity back, somewhat like the golden age of hip-hop when it was fun and everybody wasn't scared of being themselves. I'm definitely bringing a different sound and perspective to the table. My ultimate goal is to be a worldwide artist. I want to put people onto a different lifestyle and a different way of looking at the world."