East Coast Bias Lives, But Not Always

Every now and then, it pays to peer into the nearest mirror. Practice a bit of the old self-evaluation. You know, size yourself up from time to time. The most effective way to better one’s self is to chin-check one’s self, I think, and this applies just as much to a person’s fandom as it does his or her career, or relationships.

I do so quite often on all fronts of my life, and this week I’ve been experiencing a real stop-and-think stretch, rooted in the blog I wrote here two days back. The topic was my favorite soundtrack cuts, and, looking back on the randomly selected list, the post was another sad example of my unconscious East Coast bias. The impulses were there to include The Dove Shack’s “Summertime in the LBC” (The Show) and MC Eiht’s “Straight Up Menace” (Menace II Society), but, instead, I opted for the NY-heavy posse joint “Uni-4-Orm.”

Complacent is as complacent does.

Don’t act like coastal bias is an urban legend—it’s as real as taxes and aliens (they do exist, I tell you!). I know because I’ve come to grips with my own fit of the disease, and I’ve been on a one-guy crusade to rectify the dilemma as soon and as painlessly as possible.

Rather than simply post a hodgepodge of nostalgic jams for the sheer audible pleasure of it, I’m taking a trip down memory lane today, my laptop acting as the steering wheel. So much for “business never personal;” sorry Erick and Parrish. This is an I-am-Sigmund-Freud-for-the-time-being exercise. Better yet, it’s an effort to prove to myself and the comments board regulars, who are quick to crucify any and all biased bloggers that, I’m deeper than Big Apple rap.

That’s right, always entertaining peanut gallery—don’t think I forgot about the minor firestorm that blazed after I assembled a “horror movie theme samples” rundown and overlooked a bulk of Three 6 Mafia beats. I’m still indebted to you all for that one.

The interesting thing, to me, about my unwavering slant toward all things Wu-Tang, DJ Premier, Boot Camp Clik and the such is that the first hip-hop music I was exposed to was gully-to-the-core West Coast gangsta rap. Back when your New Jersey-born narrator was no more than nine years old, my older brother—who’s six calendars my senior—and our cousin (same age as my elder sibling) were diehard N.W.A. fan; yes, they were the suburban teens wearing Raiders coats made by Starter and lip-synching MC Ren lyrics into their bedroom mirrors. We’ve all had our shamelessly-out-of-our-element moments, so don’t judge them.

If you think two 15-year-old White kids locked in a room bumping Straight Outta Compton is a trip, just imagine my single-digit-aged ass sitting right there with them. I was the wide-eyed rugrat, mesmerized by everything my older bro did, so of course I followed he and our cousin into the latter’s private den; the guy owned over 50 rap CDs, a tower of foreign sounds that both excited and intimidated me. Perhaps that’s why I was so quick to love hip-hop—opposites attract, after all.

We visited my aunt and uncle every Sunday for dinner, so I was guaranteed at least one uncensored exposure to hardcore rap a week. The menu opened up beyond Eazy-E’s crew, though; King-Tee, DJ Quik, The D.O.C. and Boo Ya Tribe all gradually seeped through the speakers. In hindsight, I can say in confidence that those pseudo listening sessions in my cousin’s bedroom are what turned me into a hip-hop junkie, and, in turn, a member of the XXL staff. Which is why I find my preferential treatment of New York tunes so odd; my affinity for this culture certainly didn’t start in the sleepless city.

In fact, the first rap song to earn the distinguished keep-on-repeat handling in my world was Above the Law’s devastating “Murder Rap,” off the Pomona, California group’s 1990 opus Livin’ Like Hustlers. It’s got to be the piercing sirens. Ominous and nihilistic, “Murder Rap” makes perfect sense as one of my all-time cherished records; I’m the same guy who saw Grindhouse four times in theaters just so I could repeatedly watch the four-point-of-view car crash sequence in Quentin Tarantino’s half, Death Proof. Darkness reigning supreme within a piece of art is my Hefty bag, always has been, will be until my inner clock stops.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with that Above the Law masterwork. Think of it every time you see my byline attached to a somewhat-NY-centric blog post here on XXLmag.com, and try not to condemn. I’m a work in progress. —Matt Barone

Above the Law “Murder Rap”

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  • AZ40

    It’s not just bias it’s down right tribalism, people tend to fuck wit’ people from there own surroundings and dismiss everything else. Like they’re cavemen or dumb animals

  • John Cochran

    It’s okay to be a lil bias. If not for that east coast bias, alot of the older acts would not still be around. I listen to everything under the sun, but a mixture of regional pride and nostalgia make me always bias to east coast artists. Especially in the winter. I cant bang no down south or west coast shit through all this snow we just had here in Philly. I need that good ole east coast winter rap. I can see how being bias would be bad for a writer, but as for me I won’t apologize for it.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    I’m glad this type of article was finally written because i was about to write a blog myself. This was a nice way of putting it. Honestly, I got into rap because of my older cousins breaking dancing in a garage down south. Got a whole nother experience visiting my aunt in brooklyn and going to a block party, hell they played music all through out the night all most every night. When i was a teenager i was so east coast bias. As i got older i traveled. I’m talking so bias that if it was wu tang or some deep lyrically woven raps, i wasn’t listening to it. Until, i went to my first strip club, and got a girl to strip in a club. All i’m saying is there is a song for every occassion.

    • El Tico Loco

      Until,i went to my first strip club, and got a girl to strip in a club
      I thought that was their job. That’s like saying I got a girl to bring me food at a restaurant. But I co sign that regardless. There’s a lot of stuff I like thanks to a stripper.

  • Deadly MIME

    Yea I’ve always been talking to dude from the East about Hip-Hop and lots of them are bias as fuck, but at the same time you can’t blame them. I mean i’m was from Boston but now I live in Tampa, FL. I have the best of both worlds: The East and The South. Yea while I tend to lean more for the N.Y. style I do find myself saying and doin shit with a southern flavor as well. Think of Nas with the voice of Trick Daddy. I mean at the same time the SOuth is bias too. I know dudes that don’t play N.Y., Boston, Philly, R.I. shit at all. At the end of the day everyone is bias and will stick to what they know.

  • bullets

    i dont know know disrespect and just the fact that im saying this is going to make me sound bias but real talk counrty nigas and west coast nigas really ten to themselves someone can be a star in Tennessee and be nobody to you when you big in new york you big every where thats just a fact i grew up in brooklyn and have every outkast, killer mike, tela,suave house, 8ball mjg, album but if you go out of town tupac is the best rapper or the local guy and its not an converstaion that shit is programmed in them nigas i know people in ny who favorite artsist is zro and shit like that ice cube never met an out of towner that thougt big or jay or nas was the best and if you had to use those names with the other regions big names there is no competition

  • bullets

    i could tell a cali niga more about nwa or too short than he can new york aint the epicenter of the world thats a stupid statemnet alot clowns in my hood but we are the epicenter of the hiphop culture thats a fact

  • bullets

    and you cant front alot of mediocre rappers that we wouldn’t normally even listen to got a chance to blow when big and pac left and no disrespect cuz ny got wack nigas to but alot of that shit was southern right or wrong

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    El Tico Loco says:
    Until,i went to my first strip club, and got a girl to strip in a club
    I thought that was their job. That’s like saying I got a girl to bring me food at a restaurant. But I co sign that regardless. There’s a lot of stuff I like thanks to a stripper

    That means i got a girl to strip in a real club. outside of a strip club.n thas not their job. o, ya the bike weeks black college weekends and etc. will change ur bias too.

    i think the best way to appreciate anyting including hip hop is with an open mind.

  • http://xxlmag.com Ben

    Great blog, has not been alot of those on this site in almost two years. East bias makes me sick, I am a huge East coast fan from Az, (go figure) but I grew up worshipping Cali rap, mainly the Bay in the 90′s. I think all the half ass, shitty rappers who get shine for being from a New York borough or what not, is a got damn shame.

  • studiothug


  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk!

    Bias exists everywhere. Once you have to suppress who you are to cater to someone else’s liking is when you fail.

    Like when General replied and told me yesterday I need to come off that NY bullsh*t. Why? Because I am sharing my life experiences and are from NY? So what if I just moved to the left? The majority of my life deals with NY and my world travels, I just re-located within 2 years and don’t really know a lot about my surroundings yet. No one should ever be able to downgrade the next man because of their region of existence. But history tells us there has always been regional wars. Greece and Egypt. North and South Korea. Iran & Iraq. Germany and the wall. The UK and Ireland. Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The carpetbaggers from the East buying up land and businesses in the West. Everybody doesn’t believe in separation/SEGREGATION and bias. A cat in NY is gonna speak about a lot of NY rap, that is a part of his environment. Same for any other region. You speak about what you know. I have specifically posted comments numerous times about cats putting me on to their region’s music, and latino heat and El Tico Loco are the only cats who replied with something to check for. Don’t be part of the problem, help with the solution.

    Every region has wackness, bullsh*t and fukked up scenarios. Midwest, Cali and abroad dudes have it just as fukked up as NY PJ’s heads trying to survive and eat. Just like y’all support your own, NY heads support their own. But from what I saw yesterday, a lot of commenter’s named a lot of national rappers. There’s no need to repeat what has already been stated when names have already been dropped. You wanna post a person that will make cats say “oh sh*t I forgot about homie”.

    Now if you wanna believe and point fingers at the next one, realize you may be pointing the finger at yourself at the same time.

    No shots Gen but take it however you want to. I can’t say sh*t about the midwest except for my days of touring and leaving, and I had superb times out there with the biddies and the brethren.

    We all should be networking instead of throwing darts. Believe it or not, some cats don’t know the next region’s music. Post some links and put cats on to some of your music and leave that INterNet, WSHH comment hate for them places to figure it out.

    BTW I got a heat rock posted @ bboycult y’all. Click up and spread the word.

    • General

      No disrespect taken Syk. The shots fired were more sarcastic on my behalf and were really a reaction to the last blogs themselves which were dominated by East coast point of view. It was nothing personal nor meant to be anything but sarcastic when I said “Come off the NY bullshit”…

      Having been heavy in the music industry in the Midwest, West Coast and the South I can honestly say that I understand why so many foreign countries look at Americans as arrogant, because it is the same way I view NY hip hop. I get the talking about your experiences and sharing them, but 99% of NY hip hop heads carry on discussion with the perspective that there isn’t anyting worth discussing or on their level that doesn’t orginate from New York…

      Diversity, diversity, diversity. It is what we as the human race have always struggled with.

      So no ain’t no problems between me and you Syk, but maybe its because i know how intelligent and wise to the game that you are that I used you as an example of the same old same old

      • http://www.bboycult.com $yk!

        C’mon man I ain’t THAT old! LOL

        Pass me some of that midland heat, click the name and send it there.

        There’s a group in OR called the Lifesavas, cats are in the De La Soul vein of music. Check them out, and I have a mixtape from one of their DJ’s, Rev Shines. I’ll zip mail you the mixer.

  • av

    hell im from ok andi gotta say ill listen to anyone from anywhere.but the fact remains that tx has the best rap music.nah just fuckin with yall. i dont like people just based on where thier from. i listen to mac 10 jay z 50 cent the game spm jadakiss dsr andre nickatina lloyd banks swisha house cassidy(my favorite lyracist) … anybody really. but then again im a hip hop junkie, ill listen to any rap from wack ass soldier boy to nas. and i know alot of people where im from thats the same way.Maybe its cause we in the middle of the country. iu will say that i have more music from texas and louisiana than any where else, but thats the shit i he about most

  • sparkcity911

    UPstate S.C. NIGGAS aint bias for shit.aint no heavy hitters here.you would think niggas be all over dat A.T.L.tip but cats around here dont to much fuck with that sound..exceptjeezy.
    them mid an lower stae S.C. niggas feel that nonsense.hear alot of d-block,raekwon an 05 jeezy lately………I roc that wu/black market militia/prodigy bangers.

    a yo…………free P

    • POLO DIZ

      Hold on man pump ya breaks!…..Im in the Midlands in South Cack and niggas around here listen to nothen but down south shit….I dont know where u been at…maybe Lexington county or West Columbia. Cuz up north shit dont get no play down here…

  • Eddie

    on the note of these ringtone rappers and the dumbin it down in Hip-Hop, I must admit at age 6 my first impression of hip hop that made me fall in love where 4 songs MC Hammer’s you cant touch this, Wrecks n effects Rump Shaker, kriss Kross’s Jump, and Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby(dont front with ya frontin ass you banged it and banged it hard).

    • POLO DIZ

      Ah man I got Kriss Kross the day that shit came out…I never looked at baseball jerseys the same since!

  • kingp

    Just to let you know, I checked into this today and yesterday for the first time in a month (I used to read daily) and it’s because of barely thought out, bottom of the barrel serving posts like these that it’ll prob be another month or so before I come back in the hopes to read something even slightly interesting or unexplored.

  • BlackLondoner

    Coastal or Regional Bias does exist only/not stop in the music realm..People from Region X are more likely to employ and/or recruit another person from region X than someone from region Z..It sometimes its done unpurposedly but its mostly something that has its roots engraved in ignorance..


    As a military Brat, I understand this post fully because I when I was in Washington State niggas was like “L.L.Cool J is a straight fag” because he rapped to the ladies…(I almost agreed at some point lol) I moved down south and niggas was like “wtf is a Wu-Tang and what the hell is Nas talking about. Its a little fucked up because not listening to different music within a genre could make someone bias….The fact that Ive been around differnt cultures I couldnt have been bias…

    Also ppl go either two ways: listen to someone who they can relate to OR just like anything thats different…

    Outkast gettin booed at the apollo? classic scenario!

    Heres another one,

    nigga 1-”Yo that new Sheek Louch shit is aight.”

    nigga 2- “Maaaan FUCK Sheek, I just copped that new Ricky RAWSE mixtape”

  • forrealz

    BEST east coast rap album EVER: AZ’s doe or die

  • sparkcity911@yahoo.com