Washington was born in Los Angeles, California, United States, to musical parents and educators, and was raised in Inglewood, California. He is a graduate of the Academy of Music of Alexander Hamilton High School (Los Angeles) in the Beverlywood neighborhood. Washington next enrolled in UCLA's Department of Ethnomusicology. There, he began playing with numerous faculty members such as Kenny Burrell, Billy Higgins and band leader and trumpeter Gerald Wilson and released the Young Jazz Giants album in 2004. He has since played along with a musically diverse group of musicians including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Horace Tapscott, Gerald Wilson, Lauryn Hill, Nas, Snoop Dogg, George Duke, Chaka Khan, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Francisco Aguabella, the Pan Afrikaan People's Orchestra and Raphael Saadiq. Washington played saxophone on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly and released a solo album, The Epic in 2015.