February 19, 2002
8:32 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone noticed the lack of hip-hop stars from flyover-country? There seem to be thriving scenes in Gary, Indiana, Philly, and other cities. (Oddly, there's a dearth of info on Chicago.) Aside from a couple of well-known white rappers from the Motor City, the Geography of Hip-Hop remains fixated on NYC and LA and to a lesser extent, Miami and Atlanta. Now there's plenty of urban life going on between the coasts, and I can't believe it's because there's no talent in the breadbasket country. So is it record company stupidity, bad promotion, what?
posted by jonmc (17 comments total)
If you've got enough rap artists at home to entertain the masses, why go out of your way to dig up more?
posted by howa2396 at 8:46 AM on February 19, 2002

Snoop Doggy Dog lives in Baton Rouge, for starters. Then there's New Orleans' Cash Money label. Here's Memphis Rap.
posted by raysmj at 8:50 AM on February 19, 2002

Good point. Now that I think about it, Nelly is from St. Louis. :)
posted by howa2396 at 8:50 AM on February 19, 2002

howa2396 - since the hip-hop scene, as a whole, is notoriously independent minded, I figured that someone would've burst out of the midwest on their own(and don't give me Nelly from St.Louis, Nelly is hip-hop like Sum 41 is punk rock) if for no other reason than the fact that the music scene sems to always be looking for novelty.

I'm especially stunned that Chicago hasn't produced a major rap-star yet. Chi-Town is the epitome of the culture his Majesty George Clinton reffered to as "Chocolate City." I figured they'd have a whole stable of legends at this point, but not yet. I figure some knowledgeadble soul out there in MeFi land will point us to them.
posted by jonmc at 8:57 AM on February 19, 2002

What about KC's Tech N9ne?
He's doing pretty alright. (PS Nelly blows. Everything from StL blows)
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:17 AM on February 19, 2002

While I believe he now lives in Brooklyn, Common is from Chicago and spends a fair amount of time rapping about how charming his (former) city is. As for those scary non-rappers from the South (and why must the South be Dirty anyway?), their appeal mystifies me.
posted by haqspan at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2002

Whoa whoa whoa -- let's not forget about oakland.
(note: yes, I doubled up a bit on the hieroglyphics crew. yes, blackalicious hails from all over no. cal.)

posted by fishfucker at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2002

A Who's Who of Chicago rap

btw. i hate the term "Flyover zone".
posted by jbelshaw at 9:45 AM on February 19, 2002

I can't believe it's because there's no talent in the breadbasket country.
there is plenty of talent out here - hip hop only infests those places with a talent vacuum. it can't get a foothold in the heartland, the best efforts mtv be damned. kids out here are still playing rock and roll in garage bands and are intellectually far beyond the sampling, scratching, crotchgrabbing misogyny of hip hop. out here, kids prefer the derivative, crunching, crotchgrabbing misogyny of Kid Bisquit and Limp CreedRock. so there!
posted by quonsar at 9:47 AM on February 19, 2002

er. of course, the bay area isn't really the midwest. uh.

but we still have the HAMMER!
posted by fishfucker at 10:04 AM on February 19, 2002

For a little non-US spice, how about some T-dot hiphop? Our scene is pretty healthy lately after years of artists toiling away in obscurity.
posted by D at 10:14 AM on February 19, 2002

Minnesota's been cranking out an enormous amount of talent lately, not the least of which is embodied in Eyedea's flows... the kid handily won 2000's Blaze Battle with absolutely punishing freestyle performances.

Atmosphere, a collective from Minn that includes Sluggo, a frequent collaborator with Eyedea and Anticon (East Bay representin'), is also a safe bet.

While I'm glad to see the map included Eyedea and Atmosphere and Anticon (but not Slug as a solo act, which he's quite capable of - headz should check the last track on the "We Came from Beyond" comp, it's sick), I'm absolutely shocked that not a single act on Sacramento's Quannum label is listed.

WTF? fishfucker, thank you for at least mentioning Blackalicious... but where are Latyrx and DJ Shadow? That's just criminal neglect...
posted by gangcandy at 10:31 AM on February 19, 2002

Not to derail the thread or anything, but I need you to define your terms, jonmc. What, exactly, is the "fly-over zone," and where did that term come from? Is that some Newspeak for "Bible Belt" or Midwest? I'm just from the "left coast," myself (though I was born in Omaha).
posted by Lynsey at 10:51 AM on February 19, 2002

Lynsey - I was mainly speaking of the urban Midwest, although areas like the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain areas could qualify as well.
I took the term "fly-over zone" from one of owillis' comments, it just seemed like an economical term is all.
For the record, I like the Midwest. My favorite uncle lives in Decatur, Illinois, and you can't get more midwestern than that!
As a matter of fact, my beloved hometown is so thankfully unhip, that it qualifies as the Milwaukee of New England.
posted by jonmc at 11:15 AM on February 19, 2002

WTF? fishfucker, thank you for at least mentioning Blackalicious... but where are Latyrx and DJ Shadow? That's just criminal neglect...

DJ Shadow is originally from Davis (at least, that's where he made his debut); so I couldn't rightly include him in a list of oakland rap/hip-hop stars -- that's also why I had the parenthetical note on Blackalicious. Plus I wanted to avoid non-emcees; because, well, that makes things complex. (also note that I left out a ton of CA$H MONEY style rappers from oakland because I just know absolutely nothing about that genre.)

I don't know a lot about Latyrx (heck, i don't know a lot about the present state of hip-hop) but i am now preparing to be pleasantly surprised when I get to hear some of their tracks -- they look like they're in good company. Quannum? Sacramento? woo! let's go hometown!
posted by fishfucker at 11:54 AM on February 19, 2002

The best hip-hop I've heard recently (I'm in Oregon) is from Michigan, of all places. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both Binary Star (who toured with Jurassic 5) and Athletic Mic League have great flows. D-Compoze is pretty good, too.

As for Blackalicious - I saw their concert here last month and was thoroughly unimpressed. Other than "Alphabet Aerobics", they seem like Coup-wannabes (i.e., Oakland rappers who think that talking about progressive politics makes them "consciousness movers"). The Seattle-based Lifesavas opened (their new CD is out now) and were far better.

Speaking about Oakland, I dunno about the scene there. Shadow is best from the area, and he's not really an MC.

Pick for best new hip-hop spot: the UK. MC Dynamite (on the Roni Size album) has a great style, as does MC Neat.
Of course, my favorite rappers of all time tend to come from Brooklyn, one of rap's original hometowns.
posted by Kevs at 7:46 PM on February 19, 2002

Chicago is currently hosting the History of Hip-Hop exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Chicago has a rich urban music industry that has produced a lot of talent (Chess Records, Buddy Guy, house music, R. Kelly--hey, I like that "I Can Fly" song!) but I think the lack of exposure is *because* we're the Third Coast (a better way of saying flyover in my opinion.) At least in Chicago, the entire entertainment industry is seen as rather quaint, since there is a perception that we don't have the capability of producing as much glitz & glamour (and tripe) as the Right or Left coasts. Hell, we can't get movies about Chicago institutions shot here! Seeing the hip-hop commuinty branch out from the East Coast/West Coast thang is refreshing--witness the recent interest in St. Louis (St. Lunatics) the "Dirty South" (OutKast) and hopefully the hip-hop nation will continue to mine other regions for their unique sounds. I would also love to see more international hip-hop exposure. There are some AMAZING artists in Europe (I am immediately thinking of MC Solaar from Paris) who should be more prevalent here!
PS to Lynsey--we're the flyovers because we're what you fly-over when going between the East & West coasts. Dunno the actual parameters, but it's usually just everyone in the big swatch of land between the coasts. And Chicago in particular is the Third Coast because we have the Lake Michigan. It's got tides!! It counts!
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:54 AM on February 20, 2002

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