Why the South is on top
It’s been a week of heated debate in the blogsphere on the North/South divide in hip-hop. It started with 50 Cent telling MTV News that a lot of the music coming out of the South is "simplified" and that Southern rappers just want to party and "don’t want to think about what [they] just said." He went on to claim that the region is hurting hip-hip by "lowering the grade of the music."
Now, as Status Ain’t Hood has already pointed out, this is more than a little ridiculous. 50 is not exactly in the best position to turn around and accuse Southern hip-hop of lowering the lyrical bar.
Others, such as Just Blaze, have argued that the only folks to blame for New York’s decline are New Yorkers themselves. Just spoke on this last week, claiming that East Coast cats need to stop complaining, stop chasing trends, and simply make hot records. He added that "all of the other areas like the West and the South that have had their reign, they made it by sticking to their own."
This comment is particularly telling. Maybe New York’s decline is less about a lack of quality music—and more about constant bickering among artists.
Craig G and Marley Marl recently released a track "Letter to New York" (link via Nah Right) that addresses the lack of unity in the NYC hip-hop community. The "heartfelt letter" urges the city to "stick together, cut the petty beef, we’ll probably do better."
This reminded me of something Saigon said to me a couple of weeks back, when I flew to New York to interview him for several Canadian publications. Here’s his take on why the South is on top:
"The reason why down South is killing us right now is cause we have this crab-in-a-bucket mentality. Ever since Biggie came out with this whole King of New York concept everyone wants to be king. So, once they see one man coming up, everybody is trying to pull him down to get up, instead of people congratulating him. We’re never going to win like that. Them Atlanta artists and Houston artists, they stick together. Bun B just did a song with all them Houston artists—they’re all together. I just saw a big photo shoot with all the Atlanta artists. You don’t see that shit with us. You see diss records."