Bring Back N.Y. Rap -- by General Baker, August 2006
I recently copped XXL's newest issue (Sept. 2006) and checked out Chairman Mao's column on the decline of New York rap. While my first assumption was that he was going to tow the hip-hop conservative party line
-- and it must be acknowledged that a predilection towards conservatism exists in his piece, he was more or less, able to link it to the fact that New York no longer has a unified or homogenous sound.
I think, however, as I tried to articulate in "David Drake's The Death of Hip-Hop," that New York hip-hop, and hip-hop in general, is struggling to develop a universality, but a universality that will lay waste to regional discord. My theory, based on a dialectical understanding of it, is that hip-hop will one day be much more analogous than disparate. This is because contradiction can only work itself out through mutual destruction or integration. Basically, either New York rap will die (which it won't) or it will die as "New York hip-hop" and become a part of the national hip-hop indistinguishable by locale.
Think it won't happen? Consider East and West rap up to the late '80s. While there were obscure variances, by and large it wasn't that different. Exclusive differences eventually began to surface, but that is an inherent part of any autonomous development, musical or otherwise. C.L.R. James argued that national self-determination is a beginning basis for international unity. This same method applies to any artistic development, including hip-hop. The West had to develop a provincial style so that a higher unity could eventually bring the West and East together again. Now try to take any current hip-hop from the West or the East and locate a disparity in sound and you will be looking for something that isn't there.
While the South has brought with it a regional feel, prior to that what were they doing via Geto Boys, Outkast, and Goodie Mobb? They were latching themselves on to the only form readily available, the West for Geto Boys, the East for Outkast and Goodie. The same situation that now faces the West and the East will eventually grow to encompass the South and when it happens we should rejoice at the higher stage of universality that hip-hop will have achieved.