If you’re looking to learn more about artists from Northern Virginia, then look no further than ConFromThe703. Con is from, well, the 703 area of Northern Virginia close to DC. The first time I ever met Con was at this outdoor show and he performed on top of this train cart and had everyone hypnotized as he performed a vintage song of his 703. Throughout the 2010s with the rise of the DMV in music culture, it was spearheaded by artists like Wale and Shy Glizzy (or Jefe), IDK, and more. He has shared the stage with familiar DMV names and beyond including Goldlink, IDK, Rico Nasty, Flatbush Zombies, & Jarren Benton. For those who aren’t familiar with the phrase DMV, it’s an acronym for DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
Yet, there is this weird issue where people mistreat Virginia in that discussion. Some people only see Northern Virginia as part of the DMV, specifically whatever is around the DC metro system. Others see the state of Virginia as a part of the DMV. Others don’t even consider Virginia as DMV due to that abbreviation being more associated with DC and Maryland. Con is one of those individuals that are very adamant about letting people know where he’s from and what that area has to offer. In my opinion, who else can I talk to about the Northern Virginia music scene than a man who embraces hailing from an area not discussed enough?
It was a pleasure to talk to our first-ever producer of the week about his origins, ESPN commercials, and the Northern Virginia music scene.
Jay: Take me to the formative days of ConFromThe703 in music. How did it all begin
Con: It started when I was like fifteen because I hung out with a lot of white kids in Stafford, Virginia. Most of them were in Screamo and rock bands and I wanted to do something different. I knew I wanted to do music but something different. I asked one of my friends what if I wanted to make beats and who to go to about it. This was all during the Limewire days too by the way and a friend introduced me to Fruity Loops. I remember being on the phone for an hour and a half on Limewire trying to find the cracked version of finding FL studios. I started with the demo version but you couldn’t save beats on the demo version. That meant that I had to finish a beat right there and upload it as a final product compared to the cracked version where I can save a beat and work on it later. I started making beats and uploading them onto MySpace, hopefully, some of you still remember MySpace. Senior year of high school, I began rapping, took it seriously, and met my guy Niq at the same time.
Jay: Talk about your relationship with the head of Lovelace Magazine, Niq Bohr.
Con: That’s my guy. We were at Koltrane crib yesterday watching the fight. I knew him since I was like sixteen. We were in the same gym class. He was always right next to me in the music shit.
Jay: If I would have to describe your music to someone, I would describe it like this: clever wordplay with an emphatic delivery that no one can ignore. It’s like having the technical wrestling skills of Bryan Danielson with the flair of Eddie Guerrero packaged into a musical form. Explain to me the influence of wrestling in your discography. On The Heel Tape, each track has different wrestling promo samples and friends and associates cutting their own promos on the project. How does the aspect of wrestling entertainment influence your music?
Con: Hmmm… I had this conversation a lot in the past. Rap and wrestling are the same things. I'm sure it makes perfect sense to me and you. For someone who doesn’t watch both, they’re not going to get the correlation.
Jay: Can I make that correlation make sense? Wrestling and rap are both sports entertainment. Albeit one is a stuntman ballerina with physicality and one is lyrical exercise, an individual in either realm has to stick to the character and be passionate about how they do their craft. In the rap realm, you can live out your character and be recognized as that. People call Eminem Eminem much more than they would call him Marshall or call HOV Jay-Z more than Shawn Carter. The individuals are associated with the characters they're known for in their music as (in most cases) should reflect their lifestyle. In a sense, they have to be highly passionate about what they do to keep that creativeness alive.
Although wrestling is a bit different, to keep the authenticness of the character, some people will stick to that gimmick for their tenure or even past their wrestling days. The Undertaker is a great example. Prior to his retirement in 2020, Undertaker vocally discussed in interviews how he used to wear all black around him, not talk to fans and decline media appearances to keep the mystique of the deadman character for thirty years. Nobody is going to call Undertaker Mark Calloway. They'll see him at a Dallas Cowboys game and call him The Undertaker, The Deadman, or Booger Red (shout out Jim Ross).
Con: That's a good metaphor for that. God damn.
Jay: Thanks. As you were saying?
Con: I grew up listening to rap and watching wrestling. I was a nerd to both. Wikipedian and googling because I’m like twelve in Dale City with a computer in his room. All I had was time to do research on both. The way things are done in rap and wrestling are similar. Because I understood the correlation, it made it easier to apply both.
Jay: What really makes your songs even better to me is the way you drop your adlibs in your songs. It’s like mumbo sauce to some well-seasoned chicken wings, it only enhances the experience. Some notable ones are “Gametime! Scoreboard!” and “Woah, Woah, Woah!” Where did the phrase “Gametime! Scoreboard!” come from?
Con: That is a direct line from Mac Miller, Rest in peace to the guy. Like I’m a Mac Miller guy. A die-hard fan. A big influence on my music. The first concert I ever went to was a Mac Miller concert. When he died that really fucked me up. His third album was my favorite project. In his song When In Rome where he says something like "I’m at the top of my game" and screaming "scoreboard" as the ad-lib, I thought that was hard as shit. Eventually, I made a song and made the phrase "Gametime! Scoreboard!" and performed that song at some show. People kept repeating it and it stuck ever since.
Jay: Let's have that conversation of why Northern Virginia doesn’t get the love it deserves in the DMV phrase. Whenever I would tell people that artists like Kali Uchis and Benny Blanco are from Northern Virginia, I get confused looks from them because they wouldn’t expect them to be from Northern Virginia. In your song Hell Yeah, you rapped “Every show that I perform at is the talk of discussion. I built the NOVA scene up but won’t nobody discuss it. Here I am, once again by myself. I’m back to running my mouth, I’m back to raising my belt…”
Would you consider Northern Virginia criminally underrated in the DMV phrase conversation or does that region even care about being known as DMV?
Con: It depends on who you ask. When I was younger, like twenty-six or twenty-seven years old, I was in a community that was offended that we weren’t really included in the conversation. It was like Northern Virginia was looked at like a stepchild. I was so emotionally invested in the issue that I made it known to not call me DMV back then. Personally now, I don’t care about it as much. I don’t think were underrated. We’re more unappreciated than underrated. To me, it’s something I don’t care much for now compared to when I was younger taking it very emotionally.
“Every show that I perform at is the talk of discussion. I built the NOVA scene up but won’t nobody discuss it. Here I am, once again by myself. I’m back to running my mouth, I’m back to raising my belt…”- ConFromThe703
Jay: Earlier in the year, you and another NOVA artist Flowz competed against each other in the inaugural Dominion League Championship event. Can you describe what that event was like and go into detail about what the league can do for aspiring artists?
Con: I’m really big on theatrics and dramatics. I wanted it to look like a wrestling match. This is supposed to be a blend of performing and wrestling. My shit got botched in the beginning due to a miscommunication. I really enjoyed it.
Niq, Flowz, and I talked a lot about how we wanted to do the show even down to the day of the show. WaveIQ was the one that put the idea in the air to Niq and me. Two years ago around Christmas, WaveIQ stayed at my place for two weeks and he was talking to Niq and me while we were watching wrestling He began talking to us and said "Yo, I'm watching what yall are doing and y'all should do a league where you perform but add wrestling aspects to it. He got real excited and explained to us how we should do it like this and some aspects like that.
It’s going to be good in the aspect of how Richmond has battle rap but ours is battling in our sets. You get to make a lot of money off of it if you can back up what you said. That’s the format to expect from the show DLC but it’s a really exciting concept like how wrestling does in a way help make stars and build talent.
Jay: How did you and fellow NOVA artist Pvvli, pronounced (PÄW•LĒ) manage to pull off having a commercial with Nike and the Alabama college football team? The song was Switch Gears from you guys’ collaborative album Only On UPN.
Con: Soooo, I don’t watch football. At all. I had no clue how big it really was. I have to shout out to Al Feury for this happening. He had a friend that worked with Nike in some way. All of this happened around like Christmas time 2017-2018 and the guy said he was a big fan of Only On UPN. He asked me if he could use some of the songs for the training videos. Al and I go back to when we were little and since I was good friends with Al, that's how the guy heard of me. He asked if he could use one of the songs for a training commercial of some sort in the future and I said it was cool.
Like a year later, I wake up and my phone is blowing up and Pvvli is like "BRUH. We were on a commercial a year ago and no one said anything about it." We never got our credit for that one initially but then there was this one was for some South Carolina college football team. The guy asked us again and I said as long as you include our names in it this time, it's cool. I have family in Buford, South Carolina and one of them hit me on FaceTime all excited saying "I saw your name on a commercial" and sure enough, y'all saw our names on ESPN and it was crazy.
Jay: Who are some indie artists that you would like to shout out?
Con: Supe Dupe and Benny Finesse. Supe Dupe is my guy and Benny has been on a hot streak this year. Pvvli is another one. HE IS GROSSLY UNDERRATED AND IS THE TOTAL PACKAGE AS AN ARTIST. Dee from the coupe is the most impeccable producer and engineer to come out of NOVA. He's very good at what he does. OG Illa. Since we have been gradually back outside, OG Illa has been showing mad love and never hesitates to help make the music scene evolve here. He’s been putting in work and doing it at a high level for a very long time, so he deserves all the flowers he can get.
Written by: Jay Guevara @justinhisprime on all social media.