Late last night, for reasons I cannot explain, I sat there marinating on this whole “hyphy” movement. I use quotations because it’s still a widely unfamiliar term, and the conclusion I drew from my late-night rumination is that it always will be. I shall tell you why.
Real movements in hip-hop –– the ones with staying power –– spawn from a genuine desire for something new, and then evolve organically. Think gangsta rap, conscious rap, crunk, etc.
Goldie Gold, who is one-third of the Federation (whose infectious 2004 single “Hyphy” is arguably only second to E-40’s “Tell Me When to Go” as the official “hyphy” anthem) told MTV the following: "If people can take 'oh boy' and 'fa shizzle' from the Bay, why can't we capitalize on hyphy? We was like, 'Let's make an anthem for the Bay. The south got crunk. Northern Cali — we need our own shine.’"
That mentality, that northern Cali needs to create its own sound, is the reason why “hyphy” will be perpetually taxiing, never taking off. To illustrate, consider Lil Jon and the crunk movement. The King of Crunk drew from his influences –– old school hip-hop, 808 drums, hardcore, heavy metal, guitars, etc. –– and amalgamated them to create a truly originally sound. It took more than a decade for him and his Eastside Boyz to gain recognition on an international level, but when it happened, it stuck. Crunk became the music of the south, and Lil Jon played a key role in its rise.
To create a movement for the sake of having one is to be doomed from the jump-off. It is an unnatural and backwards process, and will more than likely have the staying power of “krumping.” Remember “krumping?” Notice the use of quotations there too.
With that said, there are also some straight ignant aspects of “hyphy” that probably make it for the best that “hyphy” not catch on. I love rap, but like Chris Rock said, this shit is hard to defend. I am hardly a parent-figure, but “ghost-riding the whip?” I cannot condone grown-ass men dancing on the hood of moving cars with no drivers, getting “hyphy.” And gas-break dippin’? Break pads cost money, homie!
While the golden state may be momentarily trailing in the rap race, it will undoubtedly have its time again. Just as it has trumped before with the fiery rage of gangsta rap; the beautiful, feel-good music of groups like Hieroglyphics and the Pharcyde; the signature sound of West Coast g-funk that has been epitomized by artists like Snoop, Dre and Nate Dogg… Yes, the west will have its time again, and when it does, it will be natural. It will be beautiful. And I won’t use quotations.