Uptown XO is DC through and through. Born as Jamaal Walton in historic Howard University hospital in ’85, XO grew up immersed in the culture and music of the District of Columbia. Both parents were musicians and XO’s first musical experiences include singing in the church choir and learning the piano, trumpet and drums. Influenced by his mother’s band practices with the Howard band, XO soaked up knowledge at each rehearsal he attended. His father, a gifted musician who toured the world with Gil-Scott Heron, left the country when XO was just in his early teens. He saw his mother fall on hard times and soon XO found himself involved in street affairs. The hazards of that lifestyle soon made it clear for XO that the streets should only be a stepping-stone to something greater.
Focused and on a mission, Jamaal set out to make Uptown XO a name to respect. Being as active in the local scene as possible, whether it meant passing out mixtapes or working at sneaker shops with Wale, XO started to network and connect around town. He began putting out mixtapes of his own and hitting the local open mics with his ferocious, unorthodox street flow. Hitting the pavement led to meeting Oddisee and yU while they too were on the come up. They recognized the like-minded talent in each other and began to build, this was the beginning of the much heralded DMV group, Diamond District. The buzz grew from local to global with their 2009 debut In The Ruff. After much critical acclaim, the trio saw their hometown sound send them on tour nationally and abroad. Never one to rest on his laurels, XO stepped into the role of local leader back home in DC. Introspective, stylish and gritty, XO is a reflection of his environment. The kid that once lived above the famed Universal Madness boutique is now the one lacing DC with the latest and greatest in hardcore hip-hop.