As somebody who grew up 90 miles from New York City and was a hip hop fiend for the better part of my life, I'd consider myself a small voice on the state of Hip Hop around these parts. It's not good.
Right now we have a bit of a resurgence in good, quality mainstream hip hop. Lupe, Drake, Kid Cudi, Wale, The Cool Kids, J Cole, Crooked I, ect. The problem is, where is New York in all of this? Where's the rap act or acts that bring the city together, because you have to be together before you can be "back".
As a city, we've only had one new superstar this millenium, 50 Cent. Of the current "stars" who claim New York, who really came out post 2000 besides him? Jay (no), Nas (no), Cam (no), Fab (no). Honestly, I think that's really the whole list of NY hip hop stars which is a statement in itself. So while we keep waiting for these guys to drop their next project, nobody ever looks forward to the next thing or even gives it a chance.
The other huge problem is one that's alive and well in every city, but i can't imagine it's any bigger than it is here. It's the "hate" factor. Nobody, i mean nobody in this city wants to see some 18 year old kid win. Nobody. It's sad. You got the older heads trying to hold on to the last shread of their careers and not actively moving the next generation forward. That didn't happen in the 90's.
I know this first hand. I saw it with a young rapper I used to work with. I saw the older rapper folks around him trying to hold him down, or at the very least use whatever they could of him to give their own careers a little more shine. I'm not naming names, but if you've known me for a while, i'm sure you know the people I'm referring to. This happens every day in NY Hip Hop.
There has to be great rappers left in this city. I know there are because I've seen them. Joel Ortiz is amazing, but I think he got lost in label politics. Charles Hamilton is just as talented as Kid Cudi or Wale but he can't stop putting his foot in his mouth.
I'm just tired of the street rappers. The dime a dozen wanna be Hov rappers. New York isn't as tough as it used to be. We're not buying the street shit. Me, a 30 year old white dude has lived in "Bucktown" for 5 1/2 years. That didn't happen 10/15 years ago. There's a milion hipsters in Bed Sty who go to their corner bars without fear at 2am to drink PBR. Apartments in Harlem now cost in the millions. Queens is one big suburb. We pay $2,000 or more a month in rent. That's not tough guy shit. You can't be hard when there's a white kid in skinny jeans living in the apartment next door.
So what do you do, you just rap. You rap about what you see. Fun, love, loss, life, sports, whatever. But just do it and do it well...and pray that the haters don't eat you up. Then maybe we'll have another superstar.
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