Jared Boyd | firstname.lastname@example.org
Even 150 years later, the battles of the American Civil War remain the source of many of America’s most treasured landmarks and monuments.
The symbols which reflect the historical schism continue to exist in the names of university halls, libraries, parks and statues in areas which once held allegiance to both the Union and the Confederacy during the conflict. In an unlikely sense, the tension between North and South have reanimated in hip-hop culture, albeit without any of the sociopolitical implications that led to one of our nation’s most violent eras.
Though the mid-1990s signified well-documented ire between rappers on the East and West Coasts, the emergence of young hip-hop movements situated in areas such as Atlanta, New Orleans and Houston, provided a subplot that became to truly unravel in the years leading to 2000.
Like several great Southern leaders before him, Outkast’s Andre 3000 formally announced the arrival of Southern interests in hip-hop with an iconic war cry. Caught in a furious rally of “boos” while accepting his Best New Artist trophy at the 1995 Source Awards, he stared down the audience in New York’s Paramount Theater, proclaiming, “The South got something to say.”
Whether those fans, artists and industry insiders took heed to that warning, prominent voices in the Southern hip-hop ecosystem were amplified in ways that spoke to numerous styles, states and interests.
For more than a decade, now, the South has dominated hip-hop airwaves, television program and the overall themes of urban culture. I guess our message has been heard.
Along the way, Northern rappers have joined in the conversation, putting aside their privileges and prejudice as the innovators of hip-hop music and culture.
Here are some of hip-hop history’s dopest examples of collaboration between sides on the once-reluctant North and South. In most cases, all parties play nicely.
So So Def/Arista Records
“Neva Scared (The Takeover Remix)”
New York’s Cam’Ron, Busta Rhymes and Jadakiss join forces for this “Takeover Remix” of Atlanta rapper Bone Crusher’s debut single. One of the crunkest songs of the year, the Big Apple rappers sound right at home on the ultra-Southern single. But, they do very little to detract from the hype of the verses on the original, which helped invigorate the careers of both Killer Mike and T.I.
Jay-Z’s mid-career ode to monogamy almost didn’t include Port Arthur, Texas rappers, UGK.
Pimp C, one half of the Texas duo, was reportedly reluctant to join in with a major-label Northern rapper. He even made a big fuss about traveling to Trinidad to shoot the tropical-themed music video. He did both, though, stealing the show in the process.
Jay-Z returned the favor in 2005 with an appearance on “Get Throwed” from UGK rapper Bun B’s first solo album, “Trill”.
Brooklynite and Jay-Z underling, Memphis Bleek, enlisted the help of Atlanta’s T.I. and Miami’s Trick Daddy for “Round Here”. The song’s theme is solidarity between the North and South, complete with an on-the-nose, Southern-esque beat made by legendary East Coast producer, Just Blaze.
Maybach Music Group
Miami’s Rick Ross is a constant collaborator of several Northern artists, such as Jay-Z, Puff Daddy and French Montana. He even signed Philadelphia MC Meek Mill to his MMG label, making him one of the biggers stars in hip-hop’s current elite class.
It’s hardly surprising to hear him alongside heroes of hip-hop’s region of origin. This collaboration is a little bit different, however.
Ross reached back several generations to go toe-to-toe on wax with old school rapper, Kool G Rap. The combination is a seamless one, as Kool G is famous for pioneering the brand of mafioso hip-hop that Rick Ross holds the torch for today.
Here, Ross sounds more like Kool G than Kool G does, flipping his signature tight internal schemes into his own. He begins his verse with the impressive, “All black armored cars, I call it Amistad, my Masonic lodge, the seven nations under God.” I’m sure Kool G rap has never been more proud to be upstaged on a record.
“Made You Look (Remix)”
Sneakily clever, due to his over-the-top humor, Ludacris broke down barriers by appearing alongside Nas and Jadakiss on the remix to this retro hip-hop hit. It’s a highlight among a large catalog of guest verses Ludacris knocked way out of the park while punching outside his perceived weight class.
In a pairing probably still shocking to some, Prodigy of Queens, New York rap duo Mobb Deep, promoted his debut solo album with “Y.B.E.” with a feature from New Orleans newcomer B.G. of the Hot Boys.
The song’s acronym, standing for “Young Black Entrepreneurs” fits the central theme of fiscal responsibility and generational wealth. Miraculously, B.G. turns in a career-defining verse.
This only began Prodigy’s career-long message of reaching out beyond generational and regional lines, embracing hip-hop artists of all creeds.
Missy Elliott does most things on her own terms. So, in 1999, when she released her sophomore album, she invited Queens legends Nas and Q-Tip, Philly’s newest female rapper Eve and Baltimore-based singer Lil’ Mo to set her lead single “Hot Boyz” ablaze.
Before David Banner was a solo star, he was a part of the Jackson, Mississippi duo Crooked Lettaz with Brad “Kamikaze” Franklin.
Their only album in 1999 features two special guests: Pimp C of UGK and Noreaga of Queens New York’s Capone & Noreaga.
N.O.R.E. delivers a deliberate introduction on the song “Fire Water”, noting that he gets around, traveling the entire U.S., playing music that represents all sorts of musical heritages. He takes the time to reference Southern rappers Goodie Mob, the state of Mississippi, New Orleans’ Calliope Projects and addresses the way he embraces subtle differences between himself and his pals in the Southeast. “My down (brothers), yo, we got mad game, and we both from the ghetto, so we kick it the same.”
Much like his appearance on Project Pat’s “Represent It”, released the same year, Noreaga fully assimilates himself in Southern street culture, in an organic and refreshing manner. His willingness to reach outside his New York bubble speaks directly to his ability to have particular longevity in the rap game.
“Touch it or Not”
Lil’ Wayne’s tenure as an unofficial member of the Harlem, New York-based Diplomats crew is a wrinkle in hip-hop music that still remains unexplained. However the partnership came about, it led to a series of collaborations between Wayne and several members of the Dipset roster. That includes this duet with the crew’s head honcho Cam’Ron.
Jared Boyd | email@example.com
Project Pat and The Roots?! Yep. It happened.
There’s not a ton of information about this one out there. It was a “leak” of sorts on Project Pat’s 2006 installment of DJ Drama’s “Gangsta Grillz” mixtape series.
What is apparent is Memphis undergound king Project Pat gives his all, contemplating the potential breakup of an unnamed significant other. On the song he goes back and forth weighing the good and bad of the relationship with Philly rappers Black Thought and Malik B.
Presumably named “Down Bottom” as an explicit nod to the Southern US, this song pulls all the stops. The song is a collaboration between Bronx MC Drag-On and his Atlanta-bred Ruff Ryders labelmate Drag-On.
Elements of synth-based horns are programmed by the song’s producer, Swizz Beatz, to emulate the excitement of HBCU marching bands. The concept of the song is fitting for Beatz, who moved from New York down to Atlanta during his formative years.
“Ghetto Rich (Remix)”
Hip-hop blogs were abuzz when Mobile, Alabama rapper Rich Boy gave his debut album deep cut “Ghetto Rich” a touch-up by adding legendary rapper Nas and the biggest rapper at the time Lil’ Wayne.
Complete with an introspective chorus from John Legend on the eerie track, all three of the song’s verses establish the ills of life in the inner city.
Nas doesn’t hold back on the little-known remix, turning in one of the better verses of his late career. Rich Boy and Lil’ Wayne don’t shy at the face of the monolithic rap kingpin, either.
“Skew it on the Bar-B”
Not long after Andre 3000 declared, “The South got something to say,” he backed it up by shoving this unlikely collaboration in the faces of traditional rap fans.
Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon the Chef hops on this cooled out Outkast cut with his brand of scientific street rhyme. In the process, the clash of Northern and Southern slang spawned several classic turns of phrase still found throughout rap lore today, including the “we the type of people that don’t bury the ax, or the hatchet” refrain.
Raekwon even dons an Atlanta Braves hat in the video as a visual aid, further cementing his love for the Dirty Dirty.
Bad Boy Records
“The Player Way”
“The Player Way” may be on Harlem pop rap star Ma$e’s album, but for all intents and purposes, the song belongs to Memphis’ 8Ball & MJG.
It’s produced by, T-Mix, the in-house producer of their then-label home, the Houston-based Suave House Records. Although the duo didn’t release an album together in the years between 1995 and 1999, the song could have fit on either of their solo projects released in that span. Luckily, it found its way onto the major-label debut of one of the late ’90s biggest breakout stars.
The appeal the Southern legends added to “Harlem World” is more down-to-Earth than the flashy, big-budget repertoire Bad Boy was known for in the years immediately after the passing of The Notorious B.I.G. in 1997.
Obviously, Bad Boy CEO Puff Daddy took notice, linking with 8Ball for ad-libs on his 2001 single “Stop Playing Games”. Taking a step even further, Puff Daddy eventually signed the group to Bad Boy, releasing two albums with the Orange Mound natives: 2004’s “Living Legends” and 2007’s “Ridin’ High”.
“The Party Don’t Stop”
While braggadocio and even violence between the East Coast and West Coast were at an all-time high in hip-hop culture, leave it to the women to lead the way in an effort to facilitate peaceful discourse.
New Orleans rapper Mia X and Brooklyn rapper Foxy Brown volley verses back and forth with Master P to this party jam. “Shake it to the East, shake it to the West, Throw it up! Northside and the South gonna handle the rest.”
This party was for all sides, worldwide. Its infectiousness helped ease a bit of the uncomfortable air surrounding coastal distinctions.
Jared Boyd | firstname.lastname@example.org
Alabama Hip-Hop Week continues…
Tuesday is day two of the 10th annual Alabama Hip-Hop Week.
Meet DJ Dirty Dan and the rest of his community organizers at Langan Municipal Park on 4901 Zeigler Blvd. from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
There, they will be holding a picnic in the park for local families and children.
Try your best to dunk several local hip-hop personalities in a dunking booth. And watch them participate in a kickball tournament with the Mobile Police Department and area kids.
There will also be free food and space bounces.
More on Alabama and Southern Hip-Hop