“It’s like New York’s been soft ever since Snoop came through & crushed the buildings” – Jay-Z, Money Cash Hoes, 1998
Let’s not pretend that this hasn’t been an issue already. There’s been several times where NYC, the birthplace of hip-hop, has taken the backseat to music from the south. The difference between then and now: we always bounced back. When the west coast ruled the rap world in the early 90s, the NYC rap scene had something to prove and needed to take back what was theres which was dominance in the rap game. Along came the legends in the making, such as Wu-Tang, Nas, Biggie, ATCQ who kicked the doors and took back what was theirs. Fast forward after the death of BIG (RIP) a new golden age of NYC rappers came through and continued the dominance throughout the industry. Artists like Jay-Z who flourished with Roc-a-fella, DMX & the Ruff Ryder’s, Big Pun & terror squad, & last but certainly not least Puff Daddy & Bad Boy records. During the late 90s and early 2000s, the mixtape scene became a big market in the streets that shaped and even rebuilt the careers of legends like 50 cent and G-unit, Killa Cam & the Diplomats and the almighty L.O.X. with the D-block movement. New York’s rap scene was nothing to be toyed with because the respect was earned due the consistency of hot records & original sound.
“B*tch f*ck ya feelings, like New York been soft, since another Cali n*gga came & crushed the buildings” – Smoke DZA, City of Dreams, 2014
So here we are, legends have passed and new names have emerged. Will there ever be raw talent and originality? The city has been in shambles as far the where the music goes. For some time now it has been a very heated and sensitive topic when it comes to the city which birthed the original sound of the music. The genuine unity that created great music has rarely been shown in recent years. It’s been bad to a point where NYC didn’t even have it’s own sound anymore. And the culprits who are half responsible is the masses. The demand for that type of music has been replaced by southern driven records, dances and trap music. And along came that “Cali nigga” who shook the world and the city with his controversial verse on Control where he deemed himself the “King of NY”. It took someone not even from the city to shake thingsup.
BUT the city isn’t down and out , thanks to the new wave of artists that have been grinding hard throughout the independent circuit. Guys like Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era, A$AP Rocky w/ the A$AP Mob, Smoke DZA, Troy Ave, Chinx Drugz, Flatbush ZOMBiES, Worlds Fair Bodega Bamz and maybe others that I probably forgot to mention, have all held it down for the city- repping their own unique sound, styles and flows. These are the forerunners of the New York rap renaissance. Old legends like 50 Cent and Cam’ron are also back on the scene, dropping dope records that fit their demeanor.
New York rap is alive and well. The residents of the city have to open their eyes (ears for the most part) to what their musical surroundings are. Without the support, how will our artists ever prosper? Genuine unity is something that is desperately needed to fuel the drive. The music is already great. Turn off the radio once in a while and expand your horizons further than what’s hip. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. New York is here but never left.
IJ of Cashmere Thoughts