05 December 2012

How The West Was "One"

When you think about the state of the game in New York today, it's not long before you realize it's in shambles. Even the south isn't what it was during its ten plus years of dominance. When these regions were in their prime, the one constant that existed between both of them was, and still is, the most underrated aspect of Hip-Hop; Unity.

You look at epic collaborations from the 90s like "Scenario" and "Flava In Ya Ear" and you see a hoarde of some of the best talent from that era setting their egos aside to shine together on legendary records. Even lesser known supergroups like "The Firm," and the timeless music put out by the entire Dungeon Family in any capacity helped strengthen the reign of these regions, because everyone had one common goal in mind; to provide their fans with great music no matter what the cost.

Nowadays New York rappers are abandoning their own hometowns and latching on to other movements to find success. And the ones who do remain true to their area, typically still release great music, but it often falls on deaf ears because their "city ain't poppin no more." The problem lies with the fact that once a city starts to get cold, every artist starts fending for themselves either in order to stay relevant, or make their mark on the game.

One major factor that leads to the division of a region is when an artist releases a diss record that backfires and sparks unnecessary, and often times overly drawn out beef. These disses are typically released with hopes of an artist re-establishing a buzz for themselves. Jay-Z once mentioned that the essence of Hip-Hop is "the battle." If these diss records were simple displays of lyricism that strictly remained on wax, that would be one thing. But over the past decade plus, rap beefs have done nothing but weaken the reputation of Hip-Hop within a given region by taking an aspect of this art form and turning it ugly by making it personal. With southern rappers, it has become so easy to get record deals by releasing catchy trash, these guys could care less about assisting or co-signing another artist from their area who actually has talent. They say it takes a village to raise a child, So does that mean that New York based rapper Joey Bada$$ and Big K.R.I.T. from Mississippi will fade into obsurity simply because where they're from isn't as hot anymore? Are the new gifted crop of rappers doomed to fail before their careers even take off due to mistakes made by the selfishness of the artists who preceded them?

If the game was modeled after the blueprint laid out by the west coast over the past 20 years, the answer is a loud and thunderous HELL NAW, NIGGA! Chances are, your favorite west coast artist from the 90s is still enjoying a healthy career on his home soil. And not only are they probably still releasing new albums, they are also continuing to collaborate with other legends to keep the coast alive. Rappers like E-40, Too Short, and Snoop Dogg have remained true to the areas that raised them, and in turn, the fans have remained true to them. There is a pure and genuine sense of unity on the West Coast that is unrivalved nationwide, and has remained consistent ever since Hip-Hop began being recognized as actual music to the "masses."

This unspoken bond between legends has trickled down to a new generation of artists that are primed for longevity in the game. Speaking of which, Compton rapper "The Game" has been known to publicly squash potential beefs between young artists because he fully understands the self-destructive nature of trying to take down another artist or rapper. At the end of the day, fans would rather hear great music than witnessing TMZ fodder.

Any true Hip-Hop fan who is in tune with the current state of the game probably has several artists from Cali that they are following simply because these artists are collaborating with legends and other up-and-comers, which is naturally translating to a slew of ab-soul-utely fantastic music for their fans. You got vets like Murs droppin multiple albums a year collaborating with youngins like Kendrick Lamar and Fashawn. You got vets like The Game giving Tyler the Creator some shine on his album. And you got youngins like Dom Kennedy on everybody's shit. You don't see west coast rappers beefin with other west coast rappers. These kids, as well as the old heads, fully understand the formula for longevity in this game. Armed with knowledge from the ones who did it before them, though, this new era of west coast artists are prepared to do it better than the rappers they grew up on. And in the end, they all plan on eatin.

Even though their goals learn more toward individual success, they won't hesitate to band together as one unified front poised to once again take over the game.

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