In an effort to promote peace among rival factions in Richmond and North Richmond, Halston Williams, better known by his performance name Doc Dolla, has assembled hip hop artists from around the region to collaborate on an album.
The project, entitled “Real Richmond vs. Everybody,” is slated for release in mid-June on iTunes and features a long roster of well-known local artists, including Iamsu! and Kool John of the Heartbreak Kids Gang. Check out the first single for the compilation, “Gotta Have it,” below.
Doc Dolla’s family is originally from North Richmond but he was raised in Central Richmond. He and other local artists and neighbors have grown tired of the rivalries pitting factions in North, South and Central Richmond against each other, along with sub-feuds within each of those areas.
“Richmond’s slogan is ‘City of Pride and Purpose,'” he said. “People take too much pride into the little section where they are from and represent it with the wrong purpose, like it’s so different from five blocks down and around the corner. And the majority of us in Richmond are related. That’s the coldest part about it.”
Doc Dolla doesn’t believe the album will forever end the rivalries, but while working on the album with artists from around the city he says he’s noticed an increase in peace.
“I can truly say, in the past month that I have been pushing [the album], it drastically softened the blow,” he said.
Doc Dolla reached out to artists from every section and subsection in Richmond, including those with street connections, with the mission of promoting “One Richmond.” Among the participating artists are every member of the well-known Richmond group “AOB” and the legendary Richmond artist Calvin T and Magic Mike.
Local rapper Sirmonte Bernstine aka “Sirdy,” who was shot dead on Fleming Avenue earlier this year, leading to more violence and a significant police response, will also be featured in the album. Halston worked closely with Sirdy on music.
The project is not just an album but a movement. Doc Dolla has sold at least 200 T-shirts emblazoned with the album title, “Real Richmond vs. Everybody” in order to pay for the cost of producing the CD and DVD. The shirts are further sending the message to Richmond residents that they must unite to end the bloodshed.
“I’ve had people that have been active [on the streets] tell me they appreciate that I stepped up and wanted to make this connection,” Halston said. “They want to be able to go to the mall with their kids and enjoy life. This has people talking to each other…no matter what side you are from, you’re really from one real Richmond.”