Washington D.C.’s own Oddisee (born Amir Mohamed el Khalifa) first became known for his talents as a producer, later on garnering respect as an emcee. Raised by his African American mother and Sudanese father, Oddisee was influenced by the socially conscious rappers his older cousins put him on to, such as Eric B & Rakim, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest. He soon began experimenting with his own style, finding ways to incorporate beloved elements of East Coast rap with the Gospel and Go-Go records his father was always playing in the DMV. Spending his childhood summers in Khartoum learning Arabic and swimming in the Nile, Oddisee began to draw from his experiences both inside and outside of the suburbs in D.C. He began to share his story authentically utilizing the basement of his neighbor, Parliament-Funkadelic’s Garry Shider, to hone his craft. After convincing his business-minded father this was more than a hobby by way of placing the first check his music made him on the kitchen table Oddisee continued to let his work ethic, keen sense for entrepreneurship, and his talents do the speaking for him. Releasing his official debut in 2006, Foot in the Door, the project was mixed by Jazzy Jeff and later led him to Mello Music Group. With an expansive catalog of over ten albums, two compilation albums, and a handful of EPs and mixtapes alike, Oddisee is known for his eclectic style combining retro soul and hip-hop, as well as for his passionate live performances. Whether on the road by himself or with his group, Diamond District, Oddisee continues to not only evolve his sound and push his own creative boundaries, but also help cultivate the careers of other aspiring musicians through his work as a consultant.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard (born Russell Jones) was a Grammy-nominated rapper and founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, known for his outrageous personality and intrepid lyrics. The Brooklyn native formed Wu-Tang Clan alongside his cousins Rza and GZA, and the trio eventually added six more members before releasing their critically acclaimed and high-selling debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993. Two years later, ODB would go on to release his solo debut Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, which was certified Platinum by the RIAA. In 1997, he appeared on Wu-Tang’s second group album, Wu-Tang Forever. While highly successful in his music career, ODB was perhaps equally as known for his frequent legal troubles and outlandish behavior. The reforms made in the welfare system in 1996 are in part attributed to the rapper after he broadcasted his misuse of the system on MTV, and he popularized the phrase, “Wu-Tang is for the children,” when he rushed the stage at the 1998 Grammy Awards. During a jail bid in 2001, Elektra Records released an Ol’ Dirty Bastard greatest hits album to satisfy their three-album contract with the rapper, and released him from the label. Upon his release in 2003, he signed with Roc-A-Fella Records. A third solo album was recorded during ODB’s time with Roc-A-Fella, but his death on November 13, 2004 shelved the project indefinitely. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be an accident, due to an overdose of cocaine and the prescription drug Tramadol.

OutKast, a duo composed of Andre 3000 (born Andre Benjamin) and Big Boi (Antwan Patton), first met in a high school in Georgia tailored towards the performing arts. With an abundance of encouraged creativity, the two bonded over their Diverse tastes in music, drawing inspiration from the likes of 70s funk maestros George Clinton, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest. OutKast‘s first official single “Player’s Ball”; climbed to the top of the rap charts in 1994, maintaining the No. 1 slot for six weeks. Following their early success, the duo became the first hip-hop act to sign with L.A. Reid’s LaFace label. With the Atlanta imprint providing them with some creative freedom, the group underwent a series of changes in aesthetic and lifestyle, such as Andre adopting an eccentric fashion style while Big Boi became a new father. As the pair came into their own individually, their collaborative sound was positively influenced as a result, with their innate starpower shining through. With the success of their follow-up double platinum album, ATLiens, OutKast broke through as forward-thinking pioneers of laid-back, feel-good hip-hop strongly influenced by dub and reggae. As they gained notoriety as tastemakers, OutKast became the first hip-hop act to openly credit rave culture as inspiration, balancing their Southern roots with their appetite for futuristic experimentation. From winning Grammy Awards for albums like Stankonia and the groundbreaking Album of the Year award for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004 to being sued by Rosa Park for allegedly misappropriating her name on 1998’s Aquemini to securing their legacy throughout the course of six studio albums, many eager fans remain hopeful that an OutKast reunion will manifest again.

O.C. is a rapper originally named Omar Cradle, who’s a member of various groups that include Crooklyn Dodgers, LUV NY, and Perestroika. He is most known as part of the Diggin’ in the Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.) collective that also boasts Fat Joe, Buckwild, Showbiz and A.G., among others.

Bushwick, Brooklyn was the breeding ground for O.C. In 1991, his appearance on Organized Konfusion’s “Fudge Pudge” was a result of being neighbors with Pharoahe Monch and him being recruited for the single.

In 1994, O.C. released his first album Word…Life, a critically acclaimed album, which boasted no features and held his most famed single “Time’s Up.” After Wild Pitch Records didn’t give O.C. enough money to promote the album, he decided to part ways with the label.

The rapper maintained a close collaborative relationship with Organized Konfusion, appearing on their records and compilations before signing with a label again to release his second album in 1997, Jewelz, featuring his single, “Far From Yours,” which would peak at #81 on the Billboard 100, making it his highest charting single.

The follow-up to Jewelz would prove to be a trying time artistically for the rapper. Bon Appetit, released in 2001, didn’t resonate with critics and fans dubbing the album too polished and toned-down.

O.C. would release Starchild in 2005 to a warmer reception. His work continues with collaborations with members from D.I.T.C., including an album with A.G. titled Oasis.

OuterSpace, comprised of Planetary and Crypt the Warchild, is a hip-hop duo that originated in Northern Philadelphia. The duo who had known each other since childhood formed while Planetary (born Mario Collazo) was in 10th grade and Crypt the Warchild (born Marcus Albaladejo) was in 8th grade. The duo was originally three emcees, which also included Jedeye (born Richard Cruz) who would later leave the group.

During the group’s beginnings, they developed a collaborating relationship with another group from the Philadelphia area, Jedi Mind Tricks. Through their dealings with the other Philly crew, they were able to release their debut single, “We Lyve,” under the label, Superegular Recordings.

In 1999, the duo released Illegaliens EP. The project showed the pair playing around with sounds and concepts rooted in their Puerto Rican background. The group continued to appear on Jedi Mind Tricks albums well after their EP released filling in the time before a debut album.

Eventually in 2004, OuterSpace would release an album full of unreleased tracks, with the help of their friends the Jedi Mind Tricks. That same year their debut album, Blood and Ashes, was also released featuring Immortal Technique, Sadat X of Brand Nubian, 7L & Esoteric, among others.

Their second album, Blood Brothers, followed in 2006 and featured frequent collaborators Vinnie Paz from Jedi Mind Tricks and Royce da 5’9”. Their third album, God’s Fury, was released in 2008 followed by My Brother’s Keeper in 2011.