Remember playing Street Fighter as a kid and figuring out the combination that would always beat your friends? For me it was the Zangief high-kick/low kick combo. My friends would get pissed using the age-old argument: “You’re just doing the same cheap move over and over again. I could win if I did that, but I choose not too.”
When I picked up the May issue of XXL, I heard the same argument from a group of New York MCs. The article was called “How Ya Like Them Apples?” and it profiles the disappointing careers of Joell Ortiz, Papoose, Tru Life, Uncle Murda and Saigon. A couple of quotes stuck out to me.
“What’s on the radio? Southern-sounding stuff. Maybe if I get a simple chorus and a skip beat I’ll make the radio.” — Joell Ortiz
“I just made a strip-club song… It’s bullshit, but, unfortunately people are gravitating toward bullshit.” — Saigon
These guys are under the impression that Southern music is too easy for them. Like the songs are so below a “true” rapper that the “real lyricists” “choose” not to make mainstream music. It’s as if their collective failures only verify how “real” and uncompromising a genuine New York MC is. This is the sort of high horse bullshit that I’ve heard for way too long and it’s time to put an end to this mentality.
This is of course ignoring the fact that Papoose spent his last few mixtapes trying to make radio-friendly hits that only missed their mark. And the fact that Saigon had a hit-making producer by his side for a couple of years with no results. (The only MC out of the bunch that I feel got a raw deal was Ortiz, who had undeniable skill but was cut down before getting a chance). The rest of them had their chances, but couldn’t make a song that could move the needle. Sorry, Sai, but at no time in the last 15 years of Hip-Hop would “Pain In My Life” be a viable first single for an album, not even in the “glory days.” Blaming this on the South is only exposing bitchassness.
Just look at the class of 09’ that has surpassed these whiners: “I Love College,” “Brooklyn Girls,” “Day N’ Nite” and basically any song from Drake’s mixtape have gotten substantially more buzz than any of the NYC contingent and not one of these songs sounds like some dumbed down music.
Here’s my challenge: if the dumb music is so easy, then do it. Turn off your brains, almighty lyricists, and make a national phenomenon over simple drums just to prove you can do it. Then I’ll believe you and give you room to bitch and complain about the market.
Until then, you Big Apple MCs just sound like sour grapes.
Special Ed – I Got It Made VLS (1989)
Max B a.k.a Biggaveli- Domain Diego
Big_Mike & French Montana – Mac Wit Da Cheese
Poor Righteous Teachers – The New World Order
Bill Withers – Just As I Am
Bill Withers – Still Bill
Poison Clan – Poisonous Mentality