Where’s New York’s Leaders Of The Pack?
This week has been a pretty good week for music, if I must say. T.I. found the time in between his 1,500 hours of community service to drop off a single. Pac Div and Game released mixtapes. B.o.B debuted. J. Cole may actually make Jay-Z look like a genius. Drake is poised to Corky-croon his way back into the vaginal folds of women everywhere. The list goes on.
Thing is, most of the things that have came out have been from the western, southern, Midwestern and international regions, which begs the question: what’s going on out here in New York? Where is this city’s “next up to bat” artist? The print version of this website’s infamous Freshmen cover didn’t showcase any spitter from the Five Boroughs. What was that indicative of? What does that mean for East Coast hip-hop as a whole?
I don’t think that New York rap is necessarily “dying” per se, but more or less too stuck in its old, stubborn ways to progress. It’s actually quite interesting to walk through Harlem streets and see someone still dressed in Dip Set-centric gear like it’s 2002. “Interesting” in a “detrimental to society” kind of way, but interesting nonetheless. I’ve even been told by a number of emcees that everything from pride to flat-out jealousy has limited New York from producing their next transcendent rapper.
It’s not like New York doesn’t have gifted rappers, either; it’s just that they don’t know what to do with them. Joell Ortiz has been doing his thing for a number of years, but he’s been teetering too close to that “vintage hip hop sound” (read: old curmudgeon rap) for far too long now. There’s Harlem’s Vado, but apparently nobody outside of the Tri-State Area has heard of him (I’ve asked a few bicoastal friends). Lloyd Banks released what could be considered the best G-Unit single in the last three years, but with no album in sight I’m not sure he can capitalize on that success. Saigon? Yeah, right. And New York can’t constantly depend on Sean Combs every few seasons to find a reason to swack camera time from his stable of slaves… er… artists.
It could also deal with the fact that virtually all of New York’s residents aren’t even from New York to begin with (myself included). Take a train down to any nondescript part of town, and you’re guaranteed to end up sitting in a cart full of ze Germans. Hypothetically, with New York somewhat lacking an identity itself, it’s quite easy to see why there’s not one pure hip-hop representative from here that isn’t closer to 40 than they are 20.
I’m not saying that New York rap is about as obsolete as Kat Stacks’ brain, mouth, orifices and reproductive systems, but there has to be an artist from this region that can be considered a torchbearer for its illustrious hip hop scene. Damn if I need Jay-Z taking a break from slowly ethering Brooklyn with that new stadium built with the revenues made from the selling of his ancestors to the “New World” townships some 400 years ago to drop off a new song.