And Still The Undisputed Champion of the World: How The South is Still Hip-Hop’s Number 1 Representer
Right now, The South is Hip-Hop’s heartbeat.
Forget the fact that Rap sales are way down, we should be recognizing that Rap albums barely drop anymore. Or rather, Rap albums that have a buzz and get people excited barely drop anymore.
Over the past two years there have only been a handful of releases that have captivated Hip-Hop fans and raised the curiosity of the general public: Jay’s comeback (Kingdom Come); Nas’ controversies (or sales gimmicks—depends on your point of view): Hip-Hop Is Dead and Untitled; Lupe’s second shot (The Cool); the Kanye vs. 50 showdown (Graduation vs. Curtis). There are those albums that mean nothing to the masses, but serve as Christmas for an artist’s devoted fan base (i.e. a Joe Budden’s Mood Muzik 3, or anything that drops from The Roots or Ghostface).
But there are rappers and music that goes against this trend. Artist that have blogs, mixtape DJ’s, and Hip-Hop heads on alert for their first single. People who force the Hip-Hop community to pay attention when they name is said. Rappers who force the whole music industry to be aware of their next release.
Right now, The South is where it’s at.
How long did the public anticipate Wayne dropping Tha Carter 3? Who has more all-star performances on guest appearances than Andre?
How many people brought T.I. vs. T.I.P the first week?
What album has a street presence like when Jeezy’s drops—who has more “trappers” (or wanna-be “trappers”) buy their albums?
Name a rapper beside Ludacris more respected for their constant creativity, wit, and cleverness on the mic? Or remember how good it felt to have the public acknowledge and see Hip-Hop at its best when Luda got with Mary J to make “Runaway Love”?
Are album sales, public opinion, and mainstream media coverage what makes good Hip-Hop—hell no. But does it count for something—hell yeah.
So far this year, there’s been no real buzz aside from Wayne, and maybe Nas’ new album. As we enter Fall, and approach 2008’s 4th quarter, some big things are on the horizon.
Jeezy “Put On” for his city by dropping the hottest joint of the summer, with the assist from Kanye, and “put on” for himself by creating a buzz for his new album The Recession. What had a lot of Hip-Hop folks talking was Jeezy’s substantial improvement on the mic, and the expansion of his content. He didn’t turn into a lyrical beast like Lupe, or Canibus, but Jeezy did show he could go beyond simplistic word play and nursery level rhyme schemes. And what made this more impressive is it’s coupled with new content: who ever thought Jeezy be talking about the economy (at least the legal economy). Or that he could make a song about politics, and at least hold his own with Nas (check out “My President is Black”). That is definitely a sign of growth, and gives the audience the chance to look out for more.
After almost a year’s worth of coverage on his guns, his community service, and his jail sentence, T.I. is finally starting to get us back to talking about his music. By dismissing Shawty Lo, jumping on Mariah’s remix, and candidly opening himself up on his single “No Matter What,” T.I.P. quickly re-focused attention to him as a rapper. He continued the success with one of the biggest collaborations of the year (he got with Kayne, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne on the track “Swagger Like Us”), and a cross-over single (titled “Whatever You Like”) that’s made Billboard Hot 100 history for the biggest one week jump to number 1—from 71 to 1. Clearly, T.I. is trying to assert that he’s still the “King.”
With Jeezy and T.I. dropping this September, and Luda on this way for Fall 2008, there will finally be some Rap albums by some Rap superstars.
There’s no question though that Hip-Hop is lacking Rap superstars; but there’s also no question that The South is holding down some of the biggest ones left. And that’s why right now, the South is still running Hip-Hop