Thursday, September 29, 2011

The State of Hip Hop: Part 3, The Northeast

Everyone in the Northeast is insisting that hip hop must be dead. I think some of it is spite because Southern and Midwestern rappers are getting more shine, but it is undeniable that too many whack rappers are getting way too much shine. Why is it easier to find Gucci Mane than Talib Kweli? You shouldn't have to look so hard to find the true MCs that are still around. Thank God we seem to have passed that T-Pain phase, but rap still needs some new lyrical blood; including the region where rap started. The living legends are holding it down but they do it forever. There are rappers on every corner up there but are any of them ready for primetime. Hell, Jay-Z got his own label now and didn't bother with anybody from above the Mason Dixon line. Someone has to step up big reppin' Gotham City and Philly to keep them interested. The game ain't dead, but it definitely needs a vital transplant of innovation; losing the attention and influence of the epicenter of the culture will close the casket quicker.

1. Jay-Z is still Jay-Z; or maybe he’s back to being Shawn Carter. When he can take time from his life as a businessman and mogul to be in the studio, he’s still as smooth as ever with a effortless delivery. However, he’s understandably not hungry as he was in his prime (Understandable, when you’re a half billionaire and your legacy is set). You’ve read earlier what I thought of Watch the Throne when I discussed Kanye. For Shawn, Beyonce’s pregnant, he got a stable of MCs in Roc Nation to manage, and his dream of moving the Nets is becoming a reality; he has more on his mind than making his own music.

2. 2. Nas is still spitting that heat that his faithful loves and the average person just isn’t in an intellectual enough mood to listen to. I still get excited whenever see a new Nas song online. He recently put out a great album with Damian Marley that I don’t believe got nearly as much love as it deserved. I feel like soon enough, he’s going to go on the attack again and produce something else that’s going to tighten as many assholes as his Untitled “Nigger” album did. Let’s hope so.

3. 3.Mos Def and Talib Kweli still eloquently deliver street news. I wish I just heard more of them on a regular basis. “Just Begun” with both of them, J. Cole and Jay Electronica was fire.

4. 4There are older legends still recording such as MF Doom and KRS-One. However, honestly I only take a listen if it’s recommended to me by someone.

5. 5Over in Shaolin, Raekwon put out “Shaolin VS. WuTang” recently which was a very well laid out story-telling album full of features and concepts. Call me old school, but I still love when he and the rest of the Clan, especially Ghostface, hop on a track together. I went crazy when Wu-Tang came and did a concert at Tech while I was in school.

6. 6 Jadakiss is still my dude; unique combination of raspy delivery and street wisdom is rare in the game. The “Last Kiss” was thorough and he’s put a lot of hard-hitting verses on other people’s songs lately. Busta Rhymes is on a mission to display his still remarkable skills to all his doubters on anybody’s song he gets to put 16 bars on lately.

7. 7.15 years or so into making sure Philly’s flame doesn’t go out, The Roots put out another great but underrated album in “How I Get Over.” Black Thought is still potent and Questlove is still a force to be reckoned with.

8. 8.I know DC is borderline geographically, but since my grandparents in PG County are considered Northern in my mind, Wale who lives right around the corner from them also falls in the Northeast. He’s been consistently delivered impressive mixtapes (latest being “Eleven One Eleven Theory”). His album “Attention Deficit” had some jewels on it that didn’t get their due love either. He brought conscious realist rap laced with go-go to the national spotlight and is the mascot for the rap game in the District. Represent.

9. 9.M.I.A.: Somebody put out an APB for Beans. Beanie Sigel was my dude when I wasn’t feeling a lot of other dudes coming out of Philly (Freeway, SMH). But every since deciding to attack Jay-Z for what he sees as disrespect while he was on Roc-A-Fella and locked up, I haven’t heard much of anything from here besides a few features. I hope he gets his focus back. And where the hell is Slaughterhouse's album? Either it hasn't come out or I missed it. When u got 3 legit MCs...and Crooked I, you got serious potential.

10. Laughingstock: I’m gonna ignore ‘close but no cigar’ cats (ex. Papoose, etc), the wack niggas with buzz (ex. Tony Yayo, SMH) and the ‘has beens’ (ex. Ja Rule, Ma$e, etc) and point out the fallen former rap bully. FUCK 50 Cent. This cat went from the most vicious in the game (“Get Rich or Die Trying” album) to crooning with chicks (you gonna ridicule Ja Rule for this and then make “Candy Shop”, “Just A Little Bit”, “Best Friend” and more?) to gimmick tracks saying nothing beyond how rich he is (“I Get Money”, “Baby By Me”). What the fuck happened to you man? How do you look yourself in the mirror Curtis? For someone who guaranteed the death blow to anyone he goes after, do u truly think u're more relevant in the industry right now than The Game or Rick Ross? Stay away, drink your Vitamin Water and count the money it made you. I respect your business saavy, but your services are no longer needed here.

10.Dark Horse: It would be easy to name Meek Millz, Jae Millz, Peedi Peedi (how do you get taken seriously with a name like that?), but I've been hearing about these dudes for years waiting for an album, so I'm going a different direction: East. Dave East was literally just introduced to me a few days ago but his mixtape "American Greed" impressed me; he had concepts and smooth flow. I'd need to hear more before I'd call myself an actual fan, but I'm rooting for him.

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