April 6, 2006
The False Binary of New York vs. South
Well yes, we totally disagree. Mainly in that I don't separate the music in this either/or binary.. I think music can embody both east coast/NY traditions and southern sensibilities simultaneously, and the clipse is probably a good example of that. So labels like "east coast oriented" don't even really fit with my worldview, but for example, as far as the neptunes sound not fitting in with the sensibilities/tastes of someone who grew up on NY boom-bap? Hell yeah I disagree! I mean, what was Grindin if not Come Clean part 2!
Ian placed the Clipse on the southern side of hip-hop's Mason Dixon, and I'm not disagreeing with that per se. I'm saying their music can fit in on both sides of that line, and I can't buy this idea that "southern hip-hop" and "NY hip-hop" are monolithic opposing camps with no common ground.. These terms remind me of "world music" in that they're so blindly reductive, giving short shrift to the many regional scenes and individual voices on both sides of that imaginary line.
As a born and bred NY hip-hopper, I damn sure have very particular tastes (not narrow, but particular). However there have always been lots of artists from outside NY's geographical boundaries that fit those tastes perfectly.. and that's no less true today. Is "NY hip-hop" about intricate, razor sharp flows? The Clipse have this on lock. Is "NY hip-hop" about sample-based loops? The most important album of 2005, that ran away with the grammys, was chock full of those.
Does it annoy me that lately NY's commercial radio is dominated by folks like D4L and DFB? Hell yes. But that's not a NY vs. The South issue. That's about these particular dudes having a particular sound that is wack to me. Hot 97 could easily make playlist that pleases my NY ears without adding a single artist that's actually from NY. Does anyone believe that if Hot had 10 Clipse-esque records in rotation, so many folks would be grumbling about "that corny southern rap" running things? Let me assure you, we wouldn't. This has nothing to do with NY vs. the South. This is about the eternal struggle of Hot Shit vs. Wack Shit. Just like it always was and always will be.
If you represent hot shit (in my totally subjective opinion), then you are on my team. I give not the slightest crap what state is on your driver's license, any more than I'd say Patrick Ewing wasn't a Knick cuz he was born in Jamaica. If you play for my team, you're on my team. Is it even necessary for me to add the Rakim quote here?