Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Who Has The Hip Hop Crown Right Now?

If you’re a real hip hop fan you know where things began. New York. It is the Mecca of hip hop. New York birthed the term “lyricist”. No other city has such a rich connection to the art form. New York is to hip hop as Africa is to the birth of man. It is that deep.
Image courtesy of porbital / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

During the last few decades hip hop has branched out. It’s crossed oceans and moved into China, Japan, France, Brazil, Canada and many other locations. Hip Hop has stopped becoming a local art and has become public property to the world. And it’s a beautiful sight to behold.

But within the states hip hop has taken a more competitive shape amongst different locations. Hip Hoppers openly compete and use the art to represent the states and cities in which they live. Its competition and it’s in the spirit of what hip hop is designed to be. I’m better than you. My city is better than your city. My state is better than your state. You get where I’m going.

Image courtesy of thephotoholic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 Hip Hop has moved beyond the rugged confines of the New York City streets and traveled throughout America. Many regions have had their turn in customizing the art form to fit their regions. This has resulted in hip hop being taken to various levels of popularity never seen. California had its turn in delivering their version of the art. Hip Hop traveled to the Mid-West for a while. Then it turned to the dirty-dirty south for a bit of exposure.

And in New York, hip hop has mostly remained the same. Lyricism still reigns supreme and respect for the art form as it was originally created still is a daily operation.

Which brings up an interesting point of discussion for us to address….

Who has hip hop now? What location is doing it better than anyone else? What area is doing more for the art in terms of furthering its message and giving positive exposure the craft?

When I ask the question of ‘Who has hip hop”, I don’t mean it in the sense of someone stealing it or abusing it. There are a ton of guilty parties to that crime and we won’t waste today’s energy on that topic. But what I mean is what region in America has “The Hip Hop Crown” right now? Before you answer, let me give the criteria in which you can formulate your opinions. We will judge the situation based on these 5 things:

1.       Originality
2.       Innovation
3.       Lyricism
4.       Musical Production
5.       Global Impact

New York has held this title for several years. Then the crown went to California with Dr. Dre & Company. Outkast, T.I.  and Weezy took it down south for a bit. Kanye and Common had it for a brief period in Chicago. But who has the crown right now?

I’m an old school hip hop head and I’m partial to the east coast stuff. That is where it all started and that is where my heart is. But if I’m being fair and unbiased, I have to acknowledge where the crown currently rests….

The Hip Hop Crown has returned to California.

I know I’ll make a lot of people mad with this but it’s the truth. And the truth is always respectable. There isn’t anything out right now that has a strangle hold on the game as much as what’s coming out of California.
This is not your typical California sound that we’ve grown accustomed to hearing. These dudes are MCs. If you look closely at the artists coming out of California you will see that these dudes studied New York artists and became students of their lyricism and flow. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul are admitted fans of artists like Rakim, Jay Z, and Notorious Big. And it shows. The majority of the artists emerging from that side of America can straight battle any MC from New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Turkey or China. They have grown that much.
photo credit: DivaDina785 via photopin cc

And the beats? The beats possess an east coast feel dipped in that old Cali flow. The beats may sound eerily similar to such producers as Just Blaze, Kanye West, and Pete Rock. But that’s because the new breed of hip hop producers emerging from California have become students of real hip hop. TDE owner Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith has openly stated that his record label’s business model is crafted to mimic Jay Z’s Rocafella Records, in that they have a certain group of producers that produce all of the hits for their artists.
And the criteria analysis of California’s new breed shows why they hold the crown.

1.       Originality: Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hustle, Odd Future
2.       Innovation: TDE
3.       Lyricism: Kendrick Lamar’s “Control”
4.       Musical Production: TDE, Alchemist, Ty Dolla $ign
5.       Global Impact: Kendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hustle, School Boy Q

That is the current state of affairs folks. That is my opinion. But I’m interested in what you see. Tell me where you think hip hop is right now.