Written by: Mike Epstein
In an interview with MTV News two weeks ago, Young Money President Lil Wayne shocked much of the music community with his words, “Flat out, I don’t like New York”. Many took offense to Weezy’s remarks because of the great musicians that have come from the city as well as the fact that Weezy F’s protégé, Nick Minaj, is from Queens. Although New York has certainly had its share of musical history, the present should not be without mention.
The New York hip-hop scene is growing by the day and is being helped by a few artists that have begun to make it big and shed light on their hometowns. One of the forerunners of this emerging NY hip-hop scene is Harlem’s own A$AP Rocky.
Part of the collective A$AP Mob (which stands for Always Striver and Prosper or Assassinate Snitches and Police for others), Rocky first emerged in August of 2011 with the video for his track “Peso”. Many people might remember this song for its infamous opening line turned anthem, “I be that pretty motha f***a/ Harlems what I’m reppin…”
The video instantly went viral along with his next video for “Purple Swag”. The impact of this online presence did wonders as it helped propel Rocky to sign a $3 million dollar contract with RCA Records. Rocky’s stock continued to rise when Drake asked him to be a part of his Club Paradise tour alongside Kendrick Lamar earlier this year. ASAP Rocky also received acclaim for his single “Goldie” off his anticipated album LongLiveA$AP , which features the memorable chopped and screwed voice on the chorus.
A$AP Rocky also set the viral world abuzz with his back and forth interview with rapper Danny Brown for Noisey. The two touched upon women, drugs, and the rap game in what has to be one of the funniest conversations ever recorded. Although the rapper himself can be characterized by his trademarked braids and gold teeth, his music has an element of swagger that has come to define him.
The A$AP crew member has continued to make news with his performance at this year’s VMAs. After taking the stage with Rihanna to perform her remix of “Cockiness”, Rocky’s hands found their way down to Rihanna’s ass which made headlines on every news blog and website after the event.
A$AP Rocky will look to continue his success with the release of his first album LongLiveA$AP which drops on Halloween of this year.
Another emcee quickly contributing to New York hip-hop is Joey Bada$$ from Brooklyn. At just 17, Joey Bada$$ might not be a household name but he is definitely working toward it. At the age of 15, a video of him freestyling was put on WorldStarHipHop and caught the attention of Jonny Shipes, founder of Cinematic Music Group and credited with discovering Nipsey Hussle and Big K.R.I.T.
Part of the crew Pro Era, which is composed of other rappers as well as producers, the Brooklyn rapper released his debut mix-tape “1999” earlier this summer to rave reviews. Joey enlisted the help of two of the best videographers in the game to hype the release of his project. Joey released videos for his songs “Waves”, (directed by Va$htie) and “Survival Tactics” (directed by Hype Williams). Many aspects of “Waves” can summarize the entire project:
-The rapper’s ability to portray a picture of his life and tough upbringing, “ Cause all we tryna do is do good/ Put on my hood when I walk through hoods…”
-Display a confidence in his ability that many rappers don’t ever grasp, “I won’t stop till I meet Hova and my mom is in a Rova”.
-The ability to change rhyme schemes and transition from rhyming an extended sentence to short and choppy ones yet in a smooth manner, “Worried bout the trendin fashions rather than descendin’ passion/ They want me send em checks but I just send em laughter/ Right after I start laughin/ They start askin “what happened? ”
The rapper joined this year’s Smokers Club Tour (started by his manager Jonny Shipes) and recently dropped his second mix-tape titled “Rejects”, composed of all the songs that didn’t make the cut for “1999”. Joey has been seen working with TDE’s Ab-Soul as of late and was even brought out by the rapper at the BET Music Matters concert last Saturday night at Terminal Five in NYC.
Joey Bada$$ proves that age is not a factor as he continues to rise and create buzz for him and his Pro Era crew.
Other rappers like Perrion (Harlem) and Bryant Dope (Queens) look to make a name for themselves in the city. Perrion is cousins with Jae Millz of Young Money and has created a substantial buzz for himself over the past year and a half. Perrion has been working on his latest tape “From Perry With Love” which is a follow up to his last mixtape, “From Paris With Love”. Bryant Dope has created buzz with the release of his mix-tape “Queens Kids” and has performed alongside the likes of greats such as Bun B. Bryant has signed a one year deal with Young One Records and is looking forward to his new tape “New New York”. Both Perrion and Bryant have been featured in XXL as well as The Source.