If one name has stood out in Columbus hip-hop over the past year, it's The 3rd.
All of the sudden they're everywhere: collaborating with Truck North of The Roots' Okay Player family; hopping on beats by ?uestlove and D.J. Premier; opening for seemingly every big rap tour that hits Columbus; producing for other rising Ohio rappers like Stalley and L.e.
You could be forgiven for thinking rappers Co City, P.A. Flex and Blaksmif plus mastermind producer Rashad were new to the game, but in fact this crew's recent success is the result of years on the grind.
"The 3rd has a long history," Rashad said. "It's kind of a resurgence we're going through right now."
For a group that's been collaborating for more than a decade, it's vindicating to get the spotlight just as they hit their artistic stride.
This year's "Nineteen Seventy Nine" LP and last year's "Club in My Car" mixtape find The 3rd at the peak of their powers, each rapper flowing comfortably over Rashad's ace production. "Escalade," included on both releases, is sleek and eccentric enough to be a Gorillaz hit.
That's just the beginning of a steady stream of projects in the works.
Rashad is producing Columbus up-and-comer L.e for the Uncool's latest mixtape, "The Measure" and working with Massillon-to-Brooklyn transplant Stalley on a release backed by Wale and Kid Cudi associates 10 Deep. Stalley, L.e, Truck North and The 3rd plan to combine for a tour this fall, adding to a string of 3rd performances across the South and Midwest.
Meanwhile, the "Three Are Dee" is set to release two projects with Truck North, a mixtape called "The Reconstruction" and an EP called "Satellites." They are headed to D.C. to shoot a video for upcoming single "Lust," produced by ?uestlove.
Why film in the nation's capital when the collaborators hail from Columbus and Philadelphia?
"The song's called 'Lust,'" P.A. Flex said. "There's a lot of lust in D.C."