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Dot the Don: Swagger of P. Diddy, lyrical skill of Jay-Z

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 6/22/2011, 5:16 p.m.

Fully entrenched in their development, Washington said, I know all their parents. I check up on the kids and their homework, their social patterns. I'm involved with my kids like I'm an extension of their parents."

Here's the rub though, Washington said, "Everything is out of our pocket, from Team Next Level. We just make a way." While Washington has not been soliciting sponsorships, he acknowledged, "It would really help to get extra things for the kids like team apparel and travel costs, but we strive on regardless."

Practice takes place twice a week at a public school on Atlantic and Clermont in Bed-Stuy from 4 to 6 p.m.

Despite the $40 referee fee for every game during tournaments-they can sometimes play three games in one day-Washington said, "We don't ask parents for money. Each tournament might be $300." Adding, "We travel a lot citywide and even to New Jersey, especially in the summer."

Washington obviously adores his work with the youngsters. "I'm looking to watch my kids grow up and become great college students," he says. "If they become great athletes, that's fine too, but my thing is to get them into college."

Mild mannered when he is not performing with the bravado of the hip-hop genre, Washington grins as he says, "My grandmother is really the motivation for everything I do. She is the strongest woman I've ever met. I've seen her go through trials and tribulations, and I never saw her shed a tear. She keeps the family together. I don't know what I would do without her. She keeps us striving."

And then comes the music.

"I love making music," Washington says. "I love all types of music. I would love to do music as a career. I love the feeling of music-the way it brings things to life and how you can relate to a song even when you don't know the artist. It is just a feeling.

"I feel I have lyrical ability of Shawn Carter [Jay-Z]. Some of his songs are like a movie to me. He helped me get through certain parts of my life because he made me feel like I wasn't going through certain things alone. I am looking forward to bringing hip-hop back to its essence, when it was just about making good music and not just about street cred and things that don't really matter."

And then Washington waxed a little lyrical: "Music should be about growth. Music to me is the best, most purest thing in world. You can relate, be normal and forget about everything because music can remove all barriers-racial and political and social.

His single, "So Official," really is just that, official. Certainly grown folks music, but it has a beat to knock you over and out. Wait till it hits the streets. Its lyrics aren't the least bit revolutionary, mind you. The Don speaks to a certain clientele most definitely.

Managed by Bugsy and working with his Golden Child Entertainment company, Washington declared, "I have songs for the streets, but I have romantic songs too like 'Let's Get Acquainted' and 'Footsteps' with that Isley Brothers flow. I want to inspire people and celebrate life and living."

He insists that he is not going to be a 50-year-old rapper. "Never that," he laughs. "If I don't make it as a rapper, I will be an entrepreneur and run my own record label with my own artists. I studied how Sean Combs came up in the business. I can write bridges, songs and verses, but I am trying to learn all the steps in the business."

The Don advises those so inclined to check out his music at wwwdatpiff.com. For a free music download, search for "From Flatbush to Forbes."