Sunday, March 26, 2006

Another Hip-Hop War?

I know this comes a little late, but I’ve read and watched some things recently that lead me to really believe that an East vs. South hip-hop war might be brewing. While I doubt it will be anything like the East vs. West drama that culminated in the death of B.I.G. and Pac, there are some tell tale signs that seem to suggest that more than unpleasant words will be exchanged.

I was initially a little hesitant to write on this at all. Part of my concern with bringing this up is that I might be adding fuel to a few sparks. But, I’m bringing some of these rappers out of the closet (so to speak) so that you might not be shocked if and when this beef should become universally recognized as real. I know a lot of us older folk won’t internalize the drama, but my reasons for ousting this beef stems from my concern that there are people out there who don’t know how to separate the real beef from the type of beef that is depressingly entertaining.

One of the first pioneers of this war is a member of the Diplomat Set entourage. A man not know for being shy, Jim Jones, who leads a double life as a rap artist and forward for the Boston College Eagles, is renowned as the mastermind behind the Diplomat Set operations both inside and outside of the rap industry.

Rappers such as Jones are solely responsible for the wealth of knowledge that I now have about selling cocaine. Were I to forego my aspirations for success through legitimate means, I would at once consult the writings of Jones, among other rappers, to commence the production and sale of yayo (I’m being facetious here). To paraphrase some remarks said by Jones in the MTV Shook Ones of '05 interview on the state of Hip-Hop (specifically pertaining to the rise of the south): “the East coast will always hold the crown because this is where Hip-Hop started…the crown stays here!” Now although my paraphrasing doesn’t do justice to his inflection, I think we can deduce that he is hesitant to give the south credit for what has essentially been a Southern Takeover in Hip-Hop music. While Jones might not be the first to express these sentiments that border on hating, the interview was the first time it became apparent to me that respect was lacking in Hip-Hop.

Moving right along. Our next culprit is a duo who said some stunning things in a recent concert. Kay Slay and Papoose, the latter of whom I’ve sadly been said to resemble, were performing at a concert whose footage can be found here along with an explanation of the events.

Kay Slay said the following words: “If I see a New York n*gg* in a f*ck*n club going like this [imitates “lean wit it, rock wit it” dance]…I’ll smack the sh*t outta you…this is New York! Bring it back to NEW YORK! Embrace ya’ll artist man, EMBRACE YA’LL ARTIST!” These cries sounded more like incendiary words inciting a people to tribal warfare more than anything else. I mean seriously, this senile man was threatening to smack people who snap their fingers? Give me a break!

Let’s move along once again. This time to an article in New York Magazine that reported the following:

Tru Life of Roc La Familia sums up how a big part of the city feels in his single ‘New New York’, a track dedicated mostly to scolding New Yorkers for aping out-of-town fads like the A-Town Stomp: “I want New York to be New York again.” As the South becomes increasingly influential across the board, there’s a real feeling in New York’s hip-hop community that it isn’t just losing money to the South, it’s losing dominion over its own culture for the first time. “We copyin’ them now B,” lamented local mixtape fixture Saigon in a recent interview, “like we call the fronts ‘grills’… it’s like we don’t start no trend.” The fronts vs. grills thing sounds trivial but it’s a matter of regional pride: Nelly’s into grills. Kool G Rap had fronts.
Speak to me people. Am I making more of this than I should or are these really signs that an impending war is looming on the horizon? I say impending because I hope we can put a stop to this before it gets out of hand.

Criticism of southern music has been that it is club music that is at its best simple and unenlightening. And while I’m not from the South, I want to impart the words of one of my favorite Southern rappers, Lil Wayne, that suggest otherwise. These words are directed more towards radio DJ’s, but I think they express an important message that everyone needs to hear.
And to the radio stations, I'm tired of being patient
Stop bein' rapper racists, region haters

Spectators, dictators, behind door d*ck takers

It's outrageous, you don't know how sick you make us

I want to throw up like chips in Vegas

But this is Southern, face it
If we too simple then y'all don't get the basics

Shooter- Lil Wayne featuring Robin Thicke
Click here to see live performance.


Joey said...

I am SO GLAD that someone else noticed how much Jim Jones looks like Dudley. BIG UP!

Brother Lightness said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brother Lightness said...

First off, kudos on the equation of Jim Jones and B.C.’s Jared Dudley. Pure genius.

To get to your question: “Am I making more of this than I should or are these really signs that an impending war is looming on the horizon?”

In my judgment, an impending hip-hop cultural war is far off from our contemporary situation. Should I ever have my kufi slapped ( in the 40/40 Club ( for two-stepping and snapping my fingers in the spirit of my West-African forebearers, I would be absolutely befuddled… I’d then proceed to act a damn fool and rely on the Red Bull and Vodka I ingested that evening to help defend my honor. But that’s besides the point.

Come on. Isn’t this just healthy competition bred by a hip-hop culture that is deeply steeped in capitalism? If one brother is eating well then the next dude is just trying to make sure that he’s still got a spot at the table.

Besides, southern hip-hop has a lasting place in hip-hop culture, no matter how trivial it might seem to some of the narrow-minded hip-hop personas that defend and reside in NYC. As any culture, hip-hop is constantly evolving and there will always be people (see: haters) uncomfortable with that evolutionary process.

I'd implore the haters to get over it. The South is here to stay.

Admittedly, as a life-long tri-state area resident it took me a while to make that admission, but the two-step finger snapping just can’t be denied. Call-and-response line dancing is a trait brought over from the West African coast and transported on European slave ships. None can deny it’s appeal.

To further this, I offer the insight of our own Brother Tallness, who offered an excellent point in defense of southern hip-hop (

“First, in the defense of southern hip-hop, the stuff guys like master p, nelly, and three six are doing is way more organic than anything that has come out of new york in the last 10-15 years. While New York rappers are still jumping through the hoops of the record industry, the southern guys are building their own identities and forging a strong regional fanbases way before they gain national attention. The music that they make is not the result of any radio payola scandals or mtv overexposure; they have the legitimate support of the people in Memphis or New Orleans, etc.

With regards to form, simpler does not always mean reductive. The Southern guys have lyrics, they just save them for the album cuts or mixtapes. When you're making a club single, the main goal is to make sure people are dancing and having a good time--The most important thing is beat and the hook. This has been true with any older form of black music that was made for people to dance to; and ironically, all of these forms have been criticized for their lack of complexity as well.”

Brother Spotless said...

I think it is pretty obvious that most of today's rappers can't rap; or at least don't. It seems a bit hypocritical for a New York rapper to claim a Houston rapper has "simple" rhymes when New York rappers are simple as well (ala 50 Cent). From coast to coast (and from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico), most of today’s rappers lack the imagination, creativity, and overall skill that their forefathers and foremothers possessed. It’s absurd for Jim Jones to claim a crown for New York that he neither helped to obtain nor helped to maintain. He’s wack, plain and simple. Forget about comparing him to Titans such as KRS One or Rakim; he doesn’t beat Warren G in a battle.

That’s not to say rappers in the South are any better. Mike Jones? C’mon now, who are you kidding? Lil’ Flip? Are you serious?? Rap music in general is at a point of artistic mediocrity…at best. It’s all about the club, which is great…for the club. I like to hear lyrical creativity and dexterity, and the days of a heightened awareness of the art form are long gone.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some rappers on both fronts that put down lyrics that show a mastery of the rhymes. Andre 3000 and Big Boi, are fine examples, as well as Lil’ Wayne. But they are few and far between. It’s ashame, but rap music has turned me into an R&B cat.

As for a beef: I don’t know if there is one, and I don’t know what they would be fighting over. There are maybe 4 rappers out there that have the lyrical creativity to hold my attention past the chorus. I think I am getting old, and the times have passed me by…

Anonymous said...

a major difference between this East/West Coast beef of the late nineties is the source of the rivalry. In '93 when snoop and dre were making doggystyle mainstream there was no east-west beef.

The beef ignited when Tupac was shot 5 times outside the Bad Boy studio. Initially it was Tupac against Biggie and Diddy. It then evolved into a deathrow records vs. bad boy. After other rappers like Mobb Deep and Jay Z (who at the time still in hawaiian shirts) decided to try and make a name for themselves and take shots at Tupac, it then became a East-West fued.

Given the violent and bloody beginings of the dispute, it should come as no suprise that it ended in bloodshed and the deaths of the two people that were in the forefront of it. It was grade school beef about dance moves or snapping fingers or harlem shaking. It was about "I had sex with your wife and I want to see you deceased."

For any regional beef to get big there has to be a very acrimonious foundation similar to the Tupac-Biggie relationship. Only then will the regional feud be a serious problem as there will be substantial ill feelings to to fuel the feud. The only similar acrimony I see is between 50 and fat, 50 and Jada, 50 and the Game, 50 and ......