(Photo Credit: Tina Harchysen)
Three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), a new artist is featured on XXLMag.com’s The Break. An ideal destination for fans, artists, and industry members, The Break showcases up and coming talent, giving a brief introduction on the artist or group, and highlighting some of their standout music. Each month, industry insiders will team with XXL to rate and comment on the submissions.
For the month of November, DJ B-Rock, Buyer and Product Analyst at Best Buy/Anderson Merchandisers, checked out the section to see what last week’s talent (Inner City Hustlers) had to offer. Check out his comments below and be sure to pick up XXL x Best Buy’s Mini-Magazine, exclusively at Best Buy.
Inner City Hustlers
Are the Inner City Hustlers the next hip-hop super-group ala Slaughterhouse or even the tight-knit Strange Music team? What makes a stand-out hip-hop collective are three things: 1) a leader, 2) individuals with such unique styles that they can easily hold their own on a solo project but whom effortlessly add to, 3) a cohesive theme. In my brief foray into the group’s music and projects I don’t quite see all of these elements.
I don’t see an emergence of a defined leader in the group after listening to tracks like “Victory”, “Seven Deadly Venoms” and “Inner City Hustlers”. There could be a leader off the mic, but it’s important to have that one who either sets the tone or the bar for every track. I see potential in Sport with his physical stature and a baritone voice that commands respect as well as Philly Feek who closes out “Seven Deadly Venoms” with chainsaw vocals and an off-kilter flow reminiscent of Mystikal. Either one I could see taking the reins, but it’s important for the group that at least somebody does.
Very few groups have as many members (seven) as Inner City Hustlers do. The more emcees you have the harder it is to agree on and achieve a unified theme, or even motto, that rings throughout projects. The size of the group also makes it more difficult for individuals to differentiate themselves. While there’s no real slouch in the group, most everybody has a style that’s only a shade or two different from the others. Instead of sounding like a curated collective of emcee styles out of Philly, they sound like a tight-knit group of homies who decided to rap together after years on the same block.
An over-arching theme is something difficult to come up with in hip-hop, but it’s necessary if the goal is to be the next super-group. They can choose from themes or styles, but I’d avoid settling for a hometown. Most acts that choose their hometown as their main focal point end up doing just that… staying locally beloved but nationally snubbed.