Underground hip-hop’s most notorious masked emcee will pay a special visit to GW Friday for the “Live from the Ballroom” series, WRGW’s first major concert of the semester.
“Hip hop heads in the community are really excited for MF Doom. He’s not someone who tours a lot. He’s played one date in D.C. in the past four years. But he was at the top of his list for about a year,” said WRGW’s hip-hop director, Andrew Nosnitsky.
Considered by many to be the hardest working man in hip-hop, Doom’s prolific material takes shape through unique skits, concepts and villainous characters. Although not as ambitious as 1999’s underground epic Operation Doomsday (Fondle ‘Em Records), MM… Food? (Rhymesayers Entertainment), his official follow-up as MF (Metal Face) Doom, was hailed as one of 2004’s best albums. The metaphor-laden, pseudo-concept album was one of the four he released throughout the year, each under a different comic book alias to represents one of his many artistic talents.
“We want to put on a good show for the GW community,” music director Brian Goldberg said. “A lot of people at the radio station really like (Doom), and we knew that he would attract a wide community.”
“As a DJ we get a lot of feedback on what people want to hear,” Nosnitsky said, listing phone and in-person requests as ways that WRGW DJs determine their programming.
“College radio is not commercial, so no one tells us, ‘You have to play something.’ Our DJs have complete freedom,” Goldberg said. With radio shows evenly distributed among hip-hop, rock, RPM, jazz and specialty genres, each WRGW department has its own top 10 list that they report to the College Music Journal, where MM… Food? is currently No.2 on the hip-hop charts.
Although the project was in the works for over a year, Doom did not confirm the GW date until several weeks ago. Sharing the bill are Baltimore emcee Labtekwon and DC’s own Buddhist hip-hop duo, Shambhala. Nosnitsky said it wasn’t difficult to recruit these openers, even last minute.
“With Doom you get so much clout, it’s not that hard to sign people on,” he said.
“We want to promote Indie artists,” Goldberg said. “Acoustic rock is really big at GW. But I like mixing genres for people who are into other things or showing people something new to try.”
For last year’s installment of the concert series, WRGW celebrated its 75th birthday by selling out the 500-person capacity ballroom with So-Cal rockers Something Corporate.
“Everyone at WRGW really likes music and this event gives people an idea of what goes into putting on a show. It’s a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun,” Goldberg said. “Many students don’t even know we have a radio station, but we are one of the largest student groups with more than 230 students working there right now.”
Due to the number of lobbyists in D.C., college radio stations have been unable to get a spot on public radio, but Goldberg said “it’s definitely something we’re working towards.”
With tickets on sale since Feb. 4, Nosnitsky said, “word of mouth promotion has been really good.”
Live from the Ballroom is Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for students, $17 for the general public and available at all Ticketmaster locations.