I’ve been thinking about the New York state of rap lately. What’s happened to the once influential ‘New York rap’ tag? It’s been disenfranchised, it’s worthless like Enron stocks. While the top acts (Jay-Z, Nas, The Wu, Ruff Ryders) are tolerable to listen to, the ones that try to follow in their footsteps are some of the worst stereotypes I ever had the displeasure of listening to. And you wonder why people are looking in other places for their daily rap dosis. Why Nelly and OutKast are selling tons of records, why rap lovers are turning to the many local independent acts bubbling just below the ground. Because New York rap is a mere shadow of its former self. It’s drugs and guns, empty threats and empty promises. NYC the Home of Hip-Hop? I’m tempted to say: not anymore. It did a Kurt Russell. Yup, it escaped from New York and is now chilling at much friendlier places.
The most interesting part about this mixtape-cum-CD might be the fact that it came as a promotional item for the PC and PS game Grand Theft Auto III. It won’t ever be packed in with the game itself though. Don’t sweat it, you’re not missing anything. You’d get to hear nothing but soulless New York rap provided by the usual suspects like Capone-n-Noreaga, Jay-Z, Nas, LOX, Cam’ron, 50 Cent, as well as newcomers like Red Cafe, P Dap or Calico and Philly representatives like Beanie Sigel and Gillie The Kid.
Beanie Sigel pops up several times, once with a remake of the Geto Boys/Big Mike classic “No Nuts No Glory” (“Streets”), but also continuing to war against Nas and Jadakiss (Styles retaliates later on). This is the unidentifiable, badly smelling residue New York rap has boiled down to: grown men bragging about crimes they allegedly have committed, rappers threatening their opponents with physical violence. You might fool kids, but you ain’t impressing me with that type of behavior. What’s worse, you’re fucking up the game. Today’s audience will be tomorrow’s performers and you’re doing nothing but misguiding these young minds. How are times ever going to get better if you keep glorifying what makes them bad in the first place? I like it gully and grimy as much as the next man, but something has to come out of it. How about a message?
As if to prove my point, DJ Whoo Kid came up with one of the most annoying identification tags ever: he keeps triggering the same two sound effects, the cocking and the firing of a gun. You’ll hear those throughout this mixtape. Is that gangsta? No, it isn’t. It’s wanna-be gangsta. Nas is the only MC on here whose verses are worth of giving them a second thought. The next generation of New York rappers better heed his words: “Had to see who I was just to know where I was at / saw both sides of the game, all the ups and downs / This goes out to the future rap kings coming up now…”