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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Aspiring rappers from G-town

Rural Iowa might not seem like the location most conducive to a burgeoning rap career, but Grinnell students Greg Margida ’16 and Jacob Washington ’15 are used to challenging normative conceptions of their genre. The creative duo have only been collaborating since August of 2013, but they are already developing mixtapes to be released online in the fall of 2014, along with a series of singles they anticipate releasing before their tapes to help build anticipation and solidify their fan bases.

Neither collaborator is a novice to the rap game, but both agreed that the accessibility and quality of the KDIC recording facilities at Grinnell helped put their ambitions within reach.

“I went to a [high school] where it was customary to be rapping just for fun, and to be playful,” Washington said, “and I did slam poetry … [but] once you kind of see the facilities you kind of feel like, ‘I might be able to do this.’”

Although Margida and Washington plan to release individual mixtapes, teaming up seemed a natural choice for the pair, who both cite social support as a key influence on their artistic development, saying that the encouragement of their friends gave them the confidence to further pursue their talents.

The duo also shares a conception of rap as a genre closely tied to personal struggle and experience. Washington expressed concerns about the homogeneity of popular rap, with its constant references to violence and money. He explained that when he works, his goal is to tell a story that resonates both with him and with his listeners.

“It’s almost like an essay. When you have a thesis, and you have a body, and you have a conclusion to your rap, then people can sit there, listen to it and really bump to it,” Washington said. “For me, it’s personal in that I always talk about my city … I’m from New Orleans, so I mention Hurricane Katrina all the time, I mention my mom and my grandfather all the time. I talk about some of the things that I know people will understand.”

Margida also prioritizes his roots, referencing his Italian heritage and his hometown of Alliance, Ohio, which he has playfully dubbed “The A,” in his works.

The pair is further united by a remarkable work ethic, developing original beats to rap over and each writing one hundred songs before the start of the spring semester, from which they will cull their strongest work to release on their mixtapes.

Washington hopes to perform at Gardner before leaving Grinnell, but the pair’s sights are set beyond the boundaries of their current locale. Both are enthusiastic about the meritocratic nature of the rap game, which they feel will reward their hard work.

“I don’t think we’ve set a bar like, ‘Oh, we’re about to make millions,’ but at the same time … we’re not limiting ourselves to anything,” Washington said.

Margida is even more optimistic about the possible outcomes of his work, and is confident that his music will prove rewarding.

“I think there would really be no point in just giving it all my effort if I didn’t think the ultimate goal was to make it to the top. That’s just kind of my attitude, though—every test I take I’m trying to get 100 percent on this test. Then with this it’s like, of course I want to be at the top of the rap game someday.”

Ultimately, however, the pair’s goal is to produce quality music by their personal standards—an endeavor they feel will be its own reward.

“[We’re] just trying to make the best music we can,” Margida said. “Trying to take it as far as we can, too. I think we both think our music is good enough to stand up there with other music.”

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