With Hip-Hop Honors coming on VH1, this Monday and the BET Hip-Hop Awards coming on October 17th, I figured an entry celebrating my hometown of Queens, New York and its contribution to Hip-Hop music. All Hip-Hop heads know all about Cedar and Sedgewick, Grandmaster Caz, and the Cold Crush and that The Bronx was the birthplace of Hip-Hop. I just want to let all the misinformed know that Queens made Hip-Hop the great art form that it is(I mean was). Lets go back(back into time), everybody in the rap world was doing that "bomb-diddy-bomb" shit, then a dude named Russell Simmons, from Queens, co-founded Def Jam Records with Rick Rubin, and introduced the world to Run-DMC. Unlike everyone else during the early eighties, notably Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC strayed away from the "dah-ha-dee-ha-ha" rap that was the norm. After the introduction of a higher quality rap product, the listeners demanded more from their emcees. A year after the entry of Run-DMC into the rap arena, another young man from Queens, by the name of James Todd Smith, began a career as a rapper. Smith, better known as LL Cool J, was the first artist to release a record on the newly started Def Jam Records, a label that would be the premiere Hip-Hop label. Two years later, in 1986, another Queens bred rapper would start the mafioso rap sub-genre, that would become popular in the mid-90's. Kool G Rap, is considered by most Hip-Hop heads to be the founder of the mafioso, Scarface and Goodfellas inspired rap(and that dude that made Superhead into Superhead). Kool G Rap's multi syllabic delivery was adopted by Big Daddy Kane, Nas, Fabolous, Big Pun, and many others. In 1988, a group from Queens named A Tribe Called Quest introduced the world to the bohemian, Afrocentric sounds of the Native Tongues Posse(I know some smart ass is going to say that the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul came out a first, the JB's were too "House" for me and De La had died before "De La Soul is Dead"). Rap drove along at the same pace for the late eighties, until 1992, when Dr. Dre dropped "The Chronic". This was the introduction of Snoop Doggy Dogg, The G Funk Era, The Dogg Pound, and Death Row Records, the West coast took over Hip-Hop music. The East coast needed to bring it back to the foundation, even though many would say the return of the East coast was Notorious B.I.G.'s doing(and some would say it was "Enter The Wu-Tang(36 Chambers)"), I say it was the amazing verse on Main Source's "Live at the BBQ". A young man from the Queensbridge Housing projects in Queens, by the name of Nas spit
"Verbal assassin, my architect pleases. / When I was twelve, I went to hell for snuffing Jesus! / Nasty Nas is a rebel to America, / Police murderer, I'm causing hysteria. / My troops roll up with a strange force, / I was trapped in a cage and let out by the "Main Source". / Swimming in women like a lifeguard. / Put on a bulletproof nigga, I strike hard. / Kidnap the President's wife without a plan, / and hanging niggas like the Ku Klux Klan!..."
Even though Wu-Tang Clan's debut album was released a year before Nas', the fanfare for Nas, after the verse on Main Source's album and the song "Halftime" from the Zebrahead soundtrack, had grown drastically. Nas' debut was, and by many, still is, considered a masterpiece and the catalyst for the return of the East coast.
Since the 90's pretty much sucked for rap music(with it being the whole Jiggy Era), I'll take this time to name a few notable Queens rappers who changed the rap atmosphere. Let's start with Akinyele, famous for "Put It In Your Mouth" and "Love Me For Free"(classics). Then there is Mic Geronimo, who made "Masta I.C.", also Cormega, who's famous for hating Nas. Queens is the foundation for some of the greatest rap groups ever(and the greatest, there is no debating against Run-DMC), Mobb Deep, Capone-N-Noreaga, Lost Boyz, 3rd Bass, Onyx, Organized Konfusion(not really a great group, just Pharoahe Monch), and the great Salt-n-Pepa. Queens is also known for it's emcees willing to battle, from Roxanne Shante murdering UTFO, MC Shan battling KRS-One(and losing, but getting honored for catapulting KRS to stardom), Nas "ethering" Jay-Z, LL Cool J annihilating any contender(leading 50 Cent to coin the phrase "LL your career"), and lastly, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. 50 Cent entered the rap game with the hood anthem "How To Rob", then he got himself shot. 50 returned and did something not seen before in the New York rap scene, he flooded the underground with mixtapes. Mixtapes were a regular occurrence for artist in the south and DJ's around America, but for an artist in New York's corporate market, it was unprecedented. 50 Cent, along with his G-Unit family began to gain a following and this led to a billion dollar bank account for Mr. Jackson(and every nigga in the hood making mixtapes to get some shine). So, my whole point in this entry is that, with rap music being so shitty right now, we need a Queens emcee to save us. When rappers were using mediocre rhyme schemes, a Queens rap group saved the day. When women needed somebody to rap to them, a Queens rapper saved the day. When somebodies career had to be murdered, a Queens rapper saved the day. When rappers were partying and bullshitting, a queens rapper brought in some gangster shit. You get my point, we need a new Queens rapper(and nobody from Far Rockaway, remember Father MC, remember MC Serch, R.I.P. Stack Bundles).
Peace, I mean WAR!