The Mad Violinist

When Ashanti Floyd, twenty-six, would be a fifth grader in Tallahassee, his classmates chuckled at him for enjoying the violin. With Tupac Shakur cranking out multiplatinum records, there have been couple of youthful Black violinists, not to mention ones visiting Europe for classical music competitions. But by senior high school, Floyd’s gym performances inspired such bedlam the principal needed to shut lower student assemblies.

The Grammy-nominated Atlantan helps lead an increasing wave of hip-hop violinists. His work continues to be featured on thirty major albums by the kind of Weezy, Youthful Jeezy, Fantasia, John Legend, and the childhood friend T-Discomfort. Also known by his stage name, the Mad Violinist, Floyd and the band Symphony Crack are completing their first release, The Addiction. He traces the group’s influences to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Dr. Dre, the Grateful Dead, Rage From the Machine-and gospel (“Amazing Grace” is really a childhood favorite). Requested the genre, Floyd replies, “Grammy music”-adding, “Hip-hop needs class. That’s what I’ve always stated.”

>> SONG: Listen to an audio clip of “Muzik,” from Symphony Crack’s first LP

Photograph by Taylor Wallace

Betsy Riley is our executive editor.
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