Why it’s so special that “Crew” is nominated for a Grammy

Not only is it an incredible song, but it’s a special point of pride for Washington, D.C. and the greater D.M.V. area.

I’ve always been proud to be where I’m from. Herndon, Virginia is a cool 40-ish minute, pedal to the metal drive from Washington, D.C., and is part of the greater D.M.V. area. During my teen years and early twenties, I’d sometimes grow restless of my surroundings, turning to driving around and blasting music, or spending evenings and weekends hanging out around D.C. with friends. When I left Virginia to work in New York in the fall of 2014, I missed that restlessness, and being away from home made me feel even more protective of its distinctiveness, especially in something I’d always loved about it — its music.

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When D.M.V. artists Goldlink and Brent Faiyaz, and D.C.’s Shy Glizzy released “Crew” on December 16, 2016, it was a moment for their whole area. The lead single from Goldlink’s At What Cost, it’s a song about reveling in the glow up. Upon zooming out a bit, the Teddy Walton-produced track is a celebration of the region, and the unique energy that makes it special. Hearing three young, rising stars from the area coming together to support one another while collectively putting on for their home on a national level was like watching a hometown dream unfold. Goldlink brings the song together, with rising area R&B singer Brent Faiyaz singing the belt-out-with-your-arms-out hook of the century, and Southeast D.C. superstar Shy Glizzy delivering an anchoring, electrifying verse, with a punching opening line (“Hey, nice to meet! / I’m Young Jefe / Who you be?”) that anyone could sing along to — a key factor in blowing the song beyond the borders of the D.M.V.

In visual form, “Crew” brought new importance to the song. In an earnest, no-frills video featuring all three of the track’s stars, Goldlink and Brent Faiyaz donned bold, eye-candy coats while turning up to the track around town, with their friends in tow. Outside of showcasing the stars in unison, the video also depicted what it’s actually like kicking it at home in the chillier months — hanging out or meeting up in parks surrounded by naked trees, driving around town blasting music with your friends by your side, and shooting the shit in parking lots. I saw streets that looked like the ones I grew up driving around, and the evening cityscape that served as the backdrop to city nights. The video meant a lot to me not only because of my own sentimental familiarity associated with each scene, but also because the rest of the world was getting to witness and begin to understand what it looked like to be where I’m from, too.

Even more momentous was having beloved and respected Go-Go bands Backyard Band and New Impressionz put their spins on the track, something ultimately indicative of D.C.’s own love and support for the song and the young artists behind it. When the latter group backed Goldlink during his October homecoming show, it was a beautiful first bookend to the song’s year — the second being the song’s Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Performance, which was announced last week.

I love “Crew,” and it will probably be my favorite and most memorable song from this year, forever. Whether I was listening to it on the subway, at work screaming it with co-workers, hearing it at a party with my own crew, or — my favorite — blasting it on the radio while I drove around back home in Virginia, it brought me immense joy and warmth. It may not be “the perfect song” to some, but for those of us from the area, it’s an important one.

Why it’s so special that “Crew” is nominated for a Grammy