New York and the Dream Team of Hip-Hop

Posted 7/24/2009 by CtotheB in Labels: , , , , , , ,

On the B train riding from Fordham, two of my students began to argue over which borough was the best. In one corner was a Brooklynite who incited the argument by expressing his disdain for the Bronx the whole walk from Fordham to the station.

"yo, i hate this bum ass borough!"

"what's your problem?"

"I swear this whole borough smells like spaghettios!"

Knowing how much my students stereotype, I was surprised he didn't say arroz con pollo. The second student also lives in Brooklyn but originally is from the Bronx. He quickly came to the defense of his homeland.

"Brooklyn is whack!"

"get outta here Brooklyn is the best borough by far!"

They argued about the attractiveness of each borough's females, which borough had the best style (swag is dead, no?), and which borough is most hardbody.

"you would never in your life say Brooklyn is whack while you were there cuz u know they would wash you!"
"that's their problem! They stay killin each other! I guarantee there will be no one left there by like...2012!"

In due time, the conversation, as I anticipated, went to which borough has the nicest emcees.

Up until this point I only observed; contributing to the atmosphere through laughter and shakin my head in disapproval to their ignorance.

I wanted to hear their answers and be reassured that the rumors were a lie: young people do know their history and had respect for culture.

The young brother from the Bronx did not disappoint:
"The Bronx don't have rappers?! Are you kidding me?! We got krs-1, we got pun, we got fat Joe (I'll give him a pass on this one as Joey crack introduced the world to pun and was a member of D.I.T.C)"

"what?! big pun is whack!"


He also went on to trash boogie down productions; two sins I am willing to forgive on the count of his youthful naivete. His next error, however, is beyond redemption.

"Brooklyn got way better rappers than that! We got fab--"

At this I had to interject.

"of all the emcees you could have mentioned, you choose fab?!"

It's not that Fabolous is whack. Far from it! But in a history that has given Biggie, Jay , Big Daddy Kane, mos def, among others, you choose fab?

This would be like asking a laker fan why their team is so great and them mentioning robert horry. Horry has contributed to the legacy but is no cornerstone.

The debate soon settled and both brothers changed trains. As I continued my ride home I reflected on three things:

If Willie Lynch were here, would he smile as these brothers' discord gave evidence of self hatred's compound interest?

Would those who died in the fight against injustice, echo Aaron Mccgruder's portrayal of Dr. King and ask, "is this what I took all those ass whoopings for?"

And I realized their argument proved many of my southern brothers and sisters right when they talk about why and how New York fell off.

Their argument illustrated the infighting that many southern emcees associate with the New York scene. Instead of reflecting on each borough's distinctions as yet another reason why the city is The City, energy is wasted in a futile debate that is based on who can outshout the other more than the facts.

This isn't unique to NY, fighting over territory occurs all over the world and throughout history. Sadly, we forget how much we need each other and waste time belaboring our inadequacies.

The greatest tragedy is when this happens to a successful group. The focus on the whole, becomes too much for the part (think David Ruffin) and they assume the success will continue just because they are there.

I believe this happened to the USA Olympic basketball team. Winning against other nations came naturally in '92 and '96. You didn't check the score to see if they won but to see how badly they crushed the other team.

The team was lackluster in Sydney and by 04, as the league was at it's lowest point in the post-Jordan era, it's performance was woeful.

Players expected to win the gold medal by birthright and even the best players didn't have what it took to be the best team.

The difference in 08? Jerry Colangelo and Coach K got the best players in the league to buy into their system and prove they were the best team in the world. Rather than relying on their reputation, they built it.

I think the New York sound, and therefore hip hop en masse, has a lot to learn from the dream team. You're only winning until you're not and the motivation should be geared toward sustaining power rather than abusing it.

To borrow language from the world of international relations, NY should maintain hegemony through the liberal concept of restraint instead of the neo-con ideal of conquest. In truth the latter is achieved through the former; run your race, and continue to push yourself to higher heights and no one will doubt your ability. You will destroy your opponents without force, win wars without spilling a drop of blood. (Sun Tzu would be pleased)

This cannot be achieved without a recommitment to love that prioritizes music over the business. If monetary spoils make the music a means to an end then the culture suffers.

Newer emcees should make art that converses with the music that came before them. What would happen if they were in actual dialogue with legends? Are there mentors in hip-hop? (We all see what Jay's relationship has done for Kanye.)

If I could create a dream team of emcees who would mentor up and coming rappers, it would look like this:

Q tip
Chuck D
Dr. Dre
Big Daddy Kane
Rev Run
Big Boi

Who would be on your squad? Let the comments begin...

3 comment(s) to... “New York and the Dream Team of Hip-Hop”


PicturesqueMusiq said...

what about the female love?

lil kim? no we don't want anyone to end up down that path.
salt n pepa? maybe
kanye? (jk) no.

Point being, female mentors would be few and far between. Thoughts?

CtotheB said...

Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and Lauryn Hill. Matter fact they should be on the list! Part 2 is on deck...

DJ NY said...

love this post Chris...& the Fabolous comparison to Robert Horry was priceless.

Black Thought
Slick Rick
Chuck D
Ice Cube
Busta Rhymes
Big L
Big Daddy Kane

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