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Wale Is Poised to Put D.C.'s Rap Scene in the Spotlight


Perhaps no one has more to gain from Wale's success than Best Kept Secret, the production duo of Craig Balmoris and Ernest Price. Better known as Craig B and Tone P, they are responsible for the go-go-influenced tracks that helped get Wale off the ground.

"We basically take all the [expletive] that's tight about go-go and fuse it with what's tight about hip-hop," Craig says. "Mash it together and bam! There you go."

Percussion is the duo's lingua franca, and in the basement studio where they work, they punctuate their sentences by clapping their hands or pounding their fists on armrests and tabletops. Craig and Tone are both 22 years old, first cousins who grew up in neighboring rowhouses on P Street SW. "We could bang on the walls to communicate," Craig says.

They met Wale through the Internet equivalent of banging down his door: "We harassed him on MySpace," Craig says. Their first collaboration was "Ice Cream Girl," a song that would eventually appear on HBO's "Entourage."

"We're like brothers," Wale says of his relationship to Craig and Tone. "We really make great music. It's like peanut butter and jelly."

Best Kept Secret has farmed out over 100 beats to a slew of Washington rappers, four of which made their way onto "Attention Deficit." No one has played a more vital role in weaning Washington eardrums off go-go and onto local hip-hop.

"A lot of people have closed ears. Living in D.C., you get trapped up in the go-go world, the accent, the culture," says Tone. "It's a tough city and it's hard to break through.

"Wale is the first guy out here and we're the music that's behind him," he says. "It's like our moment of truth."

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