Hip-hop duo Keylow Black and Kenilworth Katrina won awards for Best Video and Best Group at the 2016 Titan Awards. (Courtesy photo)
Hip-hop duo Keylow Black and Kenilworth Katrina won awards for Best Video and Best Group at the 2016 Titan Awards. (Courtesy photo)

For the past several years, D.C. hip-hop artists Kenilworth Katrina and Keylow Black have performed together on local stages and organized showcases bringing some of the city’s most talented musicians before a diverse array of audiences.

Now, as they enter the eighth year of a thriving business relationship and sisterhood, the two say they want to expand their reach beyond the Beltway and bring along like-minded musicians for what they predict will become a global movement.

“We want to do six showcases in the north [going all the way up to Canada] and six in the south. We’re trying to network with these artists; that way they’ll be there when we come back and do a showcase,” said Kenilworth Katrina, a founding member of Resurrecting Queenz, a collective of female rap artists.

During the latter part of March, Kenilworth Katrina and Resurrecting Queenz co-founder Keylow Black stayed true to their craft, bringing together a slew of musical acts to Sandovan Restaurant & Lounge on Georgia Avenue in Northwest.

That event, the first of several scheduled to take place throughout the year, featured fellow Resurrecting Queenz member Kristie Yamagucci along with Trife Gang, T-Spazz, New Jeruse, Dutchie Dutch and 808Pryme. Kenilworth Katrina recruited artists while Keylow Black managed logistics.

“We know a lot of artists we do shows with; it’s a real team effort,” Kenilworth Katrina, a Northeast resident, continued. “These artists have to have good music, stage presence and personality.”

Since appearing on the local hip-hop scene in the early 2000s, the duo have utilized their lyrical prowess to tell vivid stories about their communities east of the Anacostia River.

Keylow Black, hailing from Southeast, eulogized deceased family members and reflected on her past strife on “Need an Angel,” a single she released earlier this year. Last summer, a hype, yet cool, Kenilworth Katrina harmonized over the instrumental for Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” explaining how she and her peers navigate what she describes as a violent and over-policed neighborhood.

In recent years, a deep concern for neighborhood violence and other issues affecting teens have led them to employ more unconventional methods. The pair attempted to bridge the gap between residents and the Metropolitan Police Department when they spoke with and performed before an audience of D.C. police officers and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in 2016.

Heavy involvement in the restorative justice arena followed that opportunity. Last year, they mentored inmates at the youth detention center and encouraged childhood literacy during appearances at Kenilworth Day.

The Resurrecting Queenz movement, which they describe as an effort to unite D.C. female artists and dignify the ways youth address one another, stands at the foundation of their collective passion for peace and cohesion.

In 2015, they, along with nearly two dozen other female creatives, remixed the popular anti-violence anthem “Self-Destruction.”

“This is needed for the community. There’s nothing like [this type of ] integration,” said Keylow Black.

“We grew up in Wards 7 and 8 where youth as young as 16 [are losing their lives.] Lives are getting shorter and shorter and our message has to be positive and transparent. We’re bringing true artistry to the table, so the ‘youngins’ see that they don’t have to be all ‘shoot em up, bang bang’ in order to be successful.”

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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