Broken Language: The Threatened State Of The New York Sound

If the "Boom Bap" era is over, what are the cultural implications of traditional East Coast Hip Hop being relegated to a sub-genre?

“While y’all playa hate we in the upper millions / What’s the dealings / It’s like New York’s been soft / Ever since Snoop came through and crushed the buildings / I’m trying to restore the feelings…”—Jay-Z, “Money, Cash, Hoes.”

It’s a sound every Hip Hop head can identify: The crackling, boom bap, looped, heavily sampled and sometimes cold melodies that became the anthems across the boroughs of the Big Apple during 1980s and 90s. While it’s been a trend for a few years now, it really hit me the other day. I was walking home to my college-town apartment listening to a shuffled series of songs on my iPod. I made sure to listen to a couple loud A$AP Rocky joints to wake myself up. But as I was walking up to my door, the Capone-N-Noreaga classic “Calm Down” popped into my ears. At first, I was excited because it’d been a minute since I’d heard the record but then I stopped in my tracks. It was almost inconceivable to me that these two came from the same side of the country let alone the same city. Granted, it’s been almost two decades since the congregation of QB kingpins dropped their infamous track, but it really made me realize that, not only have the times changed, but the effort to echo territory has too.

Brand New Guy

“New York New York big city of dreams / And everything in New York ain't always what it seems...” –Snoop Dogg, “New York, New York” by Tha Dogg Pound.

It was last November that A$AP Rocky (who could be considered the poster child for regional, stylistic detachment) mentioned that he wasn’t feeling today’s New York movement saying, “I just don't like modern New York Hip Hop. I liked Dipset, I liked G-Unit–I liked all that shit in [that] era. I'm just saying now, today, I don't really fuck with a lot of New York rappers.”
As dissented as I was with what I believed to be an ignorant notion from the New York newcomer, I started to think about what he was saying. It really made me realize the disconnect between today’s New York enterprise and those of yesteryear.
I like A$AP Rocky, his music provides listeners with something different from others in the region. And in an industry where standing out is one of the only methods of survival, I can understand the music he makes.

While he names Rakim as someone he’s always looked up to and was completely star struck when he met The God on the Angie Martinez Show, A$AP can draw little to no comparison as far as sound is concerned to Ra. Rocky and others like him owe nothing to the pioneers before them in terms of carrying on their musical prowess. They aren’t the first to sound geographically out of place and they certainly won’t be the last. What we have here however, is a disassociation and a generational gap with artists that are so young, they never truly lived though the East Coast renaissance and have no personal connection with a lot of the artists they say inspire them. The fact that A$AP Rocky names Dipset and G-Unit as a pervious era should be a big enough clue. Time moves fast and like that; the Golden Era in New York isn’t one era back, it’s two. Classic albums like Illmatic and Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers are as old or older than a lot of today’s young crop.

Lyrics To Go

“New York let’s stop biting and start writing / And start mountains / When the fuck we start bouncin’…” –Cam’Ron, “Let Me Know.”

An inspirational disconnect is only the start of this major trend that has New York sounding anything but on the wide scale. While it’s an excuse, let’s not be too naive. The fact is the traditional New York sound doesn’t do big numbers anymore. Consciousness and lyricism have been out-of-fashion in Hip Hop for a while now, but the street aspect traditionally associated with East Coast Rap has kept an updated version of the conventional around. With the ever-growing presence of trap music infused in every music market around the country, the characteristics of a widely accepted track have the complete opposite symptoms of a traditional New York hit record.

Drake, a voice from outside the Big Apple and one who knows how to make a widely played record, explained what today’s audience is looking for.

“Wordy, fast Rap is not that appealing right now,” the Toronto rapper said in a VEVO interview late last year. “It’s the artists that give you a chance to breathe and digest their words and use melody (that) are sort of on top right now.” As much as you love or hate Drake, you have to admit he is one of mainstream Rap’s top representatives in today’s market.

Nothing currently lines up for a strong influx of new artists to continue the legacy of NY greats. The audience for a Skyzoo, or an Action Bronson, or a Torae isn’t what it was 15 years ago or even five years ago. Doors for a trap infused Smoke DZA are being swung open, while those recording NY records mostly see blog buzz as a pinnacle of their success. Of the 19 Hip Hop albums receiving placement on SoundScan’s top-selling albums report for the beginning of April, only two (Diggy Simmons’ Unexpected Arrival and DJ Premier and Bumpy Knuckles’ Kolexxxion) could even remotely be sonically or geographically considered as representing New York.

For the first time in history, it’s not exclusively the control of major labels that have changed the musical soundscape in New York; it’s the artists themselves. Action Bronson, someone familiar to Hip Hop fans and those down with the new Q-U scene, is well respected for his quick-paced flow and witty lyricism. He also presents the characteristics of a traditional NY artist. French Montana, from neighboring South Bronx, makes what you could consider “trap music.” Only one has had numerous serious offers from major labels and has been signed (and here’s a hint, it isn’t our Ghostface influenced friend from Flushing, Queens).

Mass Appeal

“Money talks and bullshit walks / Rap is a hustle ya’ll / Only the strong survive I was born to rhyme / Put me on the street I’m goin’ for mines” – Cormega, “Rap’s a Hustle” by Cormega.

As a journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to numerous New York Hip hop legends. While some openly embrace newer Hip Hop, some don’t. One thing’s for certain though, there’s a consensus among them that Hip Hop has changed and it’s especially changed in New York.

But let’s think about those legends for a second. As 2012 reaches the halfway point, we may be in the midst of one of the first years where we won’t be able to run to those legends immediately when we want an alternative to the new. Sure we can always reach back for our classic favorites, but who knows if Wu-Tang will ever put out another album, or Mobb Deep for that matter? Nas puts out albums at a rate only rivaled by Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z ditched the traditional New York sound a long time ago. With the 24-hour, 500 mixtapes-a-day Hip Hop world that we live in, it’s even easier for them to get buried as well. Even if your favorite emcee still puts out material after 20 years, inevitably their music itself has changed and by now. They may only be a shell of their former glory.

While there’s a deficiency in sound, borough representation is also lacking. Gangsta Rap is becoming less and less popular in all areas of the country but in New York, where street names are some of the most famous. But even the traditional talent hotbeds are not being identified as much. Queens may still be putting out talent but when was the last time we heard a Queensbridge drop from someone other than a 90s bread emcee? Lennox Ave may still appear in the videos, but how much do these new artists actually identify with its rich history? Today, the insufficiency of lyricism and street poetry in those representing New York on a wide scale may even be threatening the state of Hip Hop hotbeds thought to be forever strong. 

Wrath of the Math

“The funk legacy I pass on / Clearances for high rates / Every time we sample all the past time greats / Stick it in the SP-1200 beat / I make a loop / Lovely way to troupe in the Lexus coupe…”—CL Smooth, “Straighten It Out,” by Pete Rock & CL Smooth

Production has changed almost as much as emceeing has. A preference for the sound of a Cory Gunz or a Clams Casino is much higher than for someone who follows the bloodlines of a Buckwild or a DJ Premier. Even if a newer emcee is in the mood for a Premo beat, it isn’t he/she who is supplying the sound–it’s Premo.

But it isn’t just pure sound that has today’s East Coast producers running from the record store and hopping on Garageband– it’s also the cost. In a modern structure of quantity over quality, producers and emcees alike are looking for a way to put out a lot of product to stay relevant in a quick and inexpensive manner. Spending a significant amount your publishing on a sample for an album that may also be legally dragged out as well by using said sample is atypical now and equally hard to manage.

Those behind the boards are also finding it cheaper to strictly crank out beats on a computer rather than going out and grabbing the old SP-1200 (or even a newer E-mu model) traditionally used by many New York producing greats. This definitely cuts costs but with less and less producers using it, or something similar, we’ve lost a critical characteristic that resonates though the genealogy of our NY pioneers. Technically, one can sample using a computer as well. But few producers have mastered the art of giving a digital sample that trademark, dusty quality. Sampling is an essential aspect when creating Hip Hop music throughout the world, but is most associated with New York as it created the sound we always grew to know from that area. Remember, Hip Hop music was born from sampling and Hip Hop was born in New York.

Hand It Down

“Now it’s our time to shine and the tables is turned / And motherfuckers aggravated ‘cause we getting some burn / This don’t go for everybody just a few niggas swole / Probably ‘cause they favorite rappers ain’t in control / But just let go of the past / Because it’s hurting your hands / And pass it over to the next generation of fans…” –Bun-B, “Quit Hating The South” by UGK.

So what is the future of New York sound? Is The Bridge really over? Commercialism has always taken artists out of his/her traditional sound expectations. Once Nicki Minaj inked a deal with Young Money, no one expected her to make a dirty Queens record. As a commercial artist and one that is heard by mass audiences all over the world, not many immediately identify her with New York. For her career, it’s not about Hip Hop; it’s about record sales. What sets her apart from someone like an A$AP Rocky is, he never had an interest in making New York sounding songs, signed or unsigned by a major.

Ironically, it’s some of the youngest among us that want to bring back an era they never lived. Joey BadA$$, a buzzing New York artist from Brooklyn, recently told me he wanted to “bring the golden age back.” Joey BadA$$ is still in high school and was technically born after that era even happened. As much as I applaud that notion and like his music, it’s almost as if he’s notable for presenting NY nostalgia–bringing it back instead of continuing it. Truthfully, I hope more Joey BadA$$ types receive hype just for the musical aspect. As we move further and further from the age that spawned traditional New York sound, it will be up to those like BadA$$ to continue on their best interpretation of that aura. We don’t need to go back to 1995, classics can never be recreated. And the Golden Era is just that–an era. The boom bap sound will never become obsolete. There is still a sizeable audience for it. But as we progress to new movements, and generations stack upon each other, New York sound will become less and less the defining sound of a culture it was in past decades. Even if it’s no longer commercially viable or dominant, it will always remain the example of stylistic dominance that occupied Hip Hop music for over 30 years. I think there’s significant value in that.

Classic, New York Hip Hop’s relevance will be dictated by the fans. There are thousands and thousands of people who listen to time-honored NY tracks everyday. It’s up to them and listening audiences alike to support artists that create a sound that may not exist on a wide-scale in the years to come. There’s no need to choose between–variety is healthy; just choose both. Regardless of what actually happens, I know that I will always hunt out those artists that represent a more conventional New York and the next time I hear a “Shook Ones” or a “Protect Ya Neck” pop randomly into my ears, it will only inspire my search that much more.   

Paul Meara is a Columbus, Ohio native who has contributed to HipHopDX since 2011. He is also the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of and a senior at Ohio University. Follow him on Twitter @PaulMearaDotCom.



  • Dave

    Also can you southerners stop brining up Black colleges, which are nothing but over glorified trade schools. In fact they were created by WHITES to be trade schools to train Black workers for white manufacturing. They can't fuck with East Coast Schools/University or Silicon Valley institutions. Lose us with that agriculture school shit lol. P.S Not knocking your education though, and I love you fine ass sistas at HSBCU. Then again some of you bitches are falling off. I'd rather go to a community College in New York and have Dr Michio Kaku as a professor than go to a half ass school dayz knockoff.

  • Mike

    This is one of the best...articles on any hiphopsite I have ever took the time to read. The level of depth is really fullfilling for the reader. The use of the "detachment" for Asap Rocky was dead on. I just think that New York rappers like most rappers today are in it for the monetary gain as opposed to music. Now that rap is officially commercial its a commodity that is being replicated. Its like when the patent on an invention expires everyone starts cloning it..and all of a sudden you go from just having one form of advil then you get the knock offs. Rap is officially at the cheap knock offs stage because its finally become a proven way to sell music. Now that a business method is created rappers are "following" the trend rather than creating it. To summarize what happened to NY I would argue one has to look at Fat Joe. He is the epitome of trend followers.. when Rick Ross had Hustin' Joe had "Clap n Revolve Em", when T-Pain was poppin Fat Joe got him , Khaled started goin in Fat Joe replicated that sound on his album and so on and so on and so on. I can't run all the trends hes bit but hes always on the tale end of them. Rappers like A$ap Rocky represent the trend follower reborn. A$ap is dope but A$ap is dope using a style thats not from NY. NY hasn't evolved... its just NY rappers started following trends and they left their own home towns in total disarray. NY rap moved down south and hardly visits NY anymore. Jay-z follows trends.. think about NY rap when Roc-A-Fella was poppin. Think about the front line of the R.O.C ...not press fast forward.. who woulda guess Jay would drop Beans and State Property.. (think Roc La Familia Album) and modern Jay would be singing wit Kanye.. rappin wit Drake... and doing songs with Wayne. The rationale behind following trends is money.. and rappers are more about money than ensuring their local community still maintains its uniqueness..

  • Sikander Kahlon

    Joell Ortiz vs All New Newyork Rappers!

  • Vinny Jett

    Hey, you guys all had some great things to say, but the real problem is the record labels. There has been a recent emergence of these semi-lyrical emcees such as J Cole, Krit, Lamar etc. And even though some of these cats are dope, they still lack a lot of the substance that was present in the golden era. Instead of rapping about their experiences in the street, they rap about how hard it was to get a record deal. It's just boring. I'd much rather bump Mobb Deep or Nas because they taught me something new. They showed me the street life. These new cats aren't showing me anything. And that's the record labels intention. They promote one central message and that's money chasing and ignorance. They got us right where they want us.

  • khordkutta

    New York lets stop biting and start writing / And start mountains / When the fuck we start bouncin CamRon, Let Me Know. And then he went on to make, "What Means the World?" a BOUNCE record.

  • nate

    "the globalization of hip-hop" to take it straight from the GZA's mouth.

  • nate

    this is just a symptom of the modern era. regionalism as a whole is dying. Its the whole global community thing; accents are dying, region specific fashion and sounds, you know, all that. the world moves too fast for the old timers; it is what it is.

  • G code

    Every Coast has control hiphop only problem corperate has diluted hiphop ruin it with mindless gangstr crap and now with all this devil santantic and homo garbage this was once a culture of street artist and postive influnce with a message now the select few who get air and video are just puppets

  • @AndrewS653

    the fans should of never turned back on 50 the way some did he still holding it down and trying to let y'all understand he's giving you the game you got to listen man

  • mjs210

    I'm from Texas and I listen to Wu-Tang and all that. The beats back then just conveyed more emotion than these bass driven beats nowadays. Period. Sure its nicer to ride to, but it's emotionless. The lyrics are emotionless. If you can't take nothing away from the beat or the lyrics, it's pointless imo

  • Brookaveli

    Articles like this remind me that there was a side to golden era rap that I didn't pay much attention to. At that age I couldn't afford to buy a lot of music, so when I did buy tapes/CDs it may have been months before I got another one. I was much, much more interested in what the west coast artists were putting out. I need to go back and give some of these artists an overdue first look.

  • PeskWon

    this article was on point when talking about the gap between generations.. but there is a audience for the boom bap sound as proven by artists like bumpy knuckles, vinnie paz, ill bill... etc.. its just not in new york anymore.

  • Jack Compton

    Fred The Godson

  • ilikevideo


  • Money First

    Love it or hate it..shit changes!! For better or for worse you gotta embrace the new and if you love the old..dammit love the old too! My parents listened to their music just like we listen to ours and the ones from their generation will still listen to theirs...just don't be afraid or hate on the new because its not what you grew up on!!

  • KdotMills

    NY rap didnt fall off. It got poisoned by the money and ignorance just like dirty south. Non of the music in any genre of rap uplifts the people anymore. There are 5 wanna be 2 Chainz for every 1 Lupe Fiasco. The record labels took black music and turned it into a never ending commercial to push the next product on the youth. The rappers go along for the money, the labels, websites, and fans go along with it for the money and to fit in.

  • classicknobullrecordz

    Neme$1$ is also part of a Duo called Pure Balance, an they just leaked a song from their new album featuring Dizzy Wright

  • classicknobullrecordz

    check out Neme$1$...he storytells like biggie and nas, makes beats and choruses like dj premier/dj paul and juicy j...all around talent, self-produced album and mixtape are on youtube/datpiff

  • Vagabond

    What bothers me is why no other music genre is going thru what hip hop is going thru. Or what's left of hip hop as some might say. I just accept I'm considered a old nigga. The problem is when I was listenin to rap growin up I can listen to an artist and get an idea of who they favorite rappers were by their style. Now these niggas is just inspired by hard beats. And drake is right. "wordy fast rap isn't in" listen to early lil Wayne and early mixtape Wayne. Once he dropped fireman his wordy fast flow completely disappeared. Just sit back and laugh at it and reminisce and put the youngsters on to the classics. Some hip hop heads had kids early and can bond with their kids thru hip hop and the different eras. I watch my homey argue wit his 16 year old all the time. His son think lil Wayne is the greatest thing to touch a mic and he'll argue 2pac all day while his son says he's aight and doesn't see what all the fuss is about. And how many of us got uncles who tried to put us on to p funk and called them the originators of hip hop.

  • Shaolin style

    First off let me say new York in the 90s defined the golden era of hip hop. Simply the purest and most talented raw skilled music EVER in hip hop. That being said, times change man, so does the sound. If u wanna listen to that then there are hundreds of 90s CDs to listen to. Just because it ain't mainstream it don't mean it doesn't exist anymore. I admit that I get mad when I see a talent less bitch like nicki minaj on top of the world and a legend like NAS struggling to pay child support, but money is money and music is music, and I don't hate on anybody for getting money for being allover the media, as long as I can go and listen to some really hip hop whenever I want. The ironic thing is that new York always hated the south and talks down, but at the end of the day niggas from new york are trying so hard to sound like us!! Shits hillarious, just like PIMP C said "niggas trying to smell like us"

  • Simple like ABC, 123

    New York, Move On [Slaughterhouse]

  • Intelligent Lil B

    I understand what the article is tryna say but most people in the comment section are overracting. That NY Sound was just a phase, in fact music is like fashion, it changes all the time. With that being said this current sound will get old and the youth will move on. Heck I listen to Lil B(hence the name) but it doesnt mean i will be listening to him forever. People need to stop with that "Fuck Old Skool" Or "Fuck New Skool" nonsense its jus plain stupid. Music is about creativity therefore the sound is always gonna change eventually END OF STORY!!! WHOOP SWAG!!!

  • jay

    u want the NYC sound see Action Bronson. its still around support the music.

  • jay

    i remember ol heads saying Mobb Deep and Wu tang was not real hip back in 1994... they wanted to bring Big Daddy kane and Slick Rick back. Real hip hop is whatever the youth wants it to be...

    • Vagabond

      Lmao real talk. I remember how my older cuzins would call say biggie could rhyme but he's commercial bullshit and jay was big daddy Kane wannabe and they kept tellin me krs and rakim ll cool j etc was the shit and would blow the hot 90's rap out the water. Its cycles.

  • Vagabond

    Good article and great examples. It's just a new day. They play a "hits of yesterday" station at my job and it's playin hip hop hooray and regulate. E youngsters look at us weird when the few old heads recite every word and go to jammin. I grew up in Miami and growin people still generally bumped ny hip hop if it was dope. Now they won't give a ny rapper a chance. The sound changed down south as well. Atl rappers ain't soundin like dungeon family. There's no more Miami bass music. There's no Miami rappers who you can tell were influenced by jt money and trick daddy. Aside from k.r.i.t. There's nothing that sounds close to 8ball &mjg or ugk. Or gets boys. It goes for all genres. Our moms didn't stop listening to Anita baker and Tina turner and then shoved it to the side for beyonce.

  • Anonymous

    if you think hip-op is dead then you don't even deserve the one... leave it to us who like it...simple as that...


    Curren$y, David Dallas (from New Zealand, Australia signed to Duckdown) Bogus Boys (Chi-Town) and Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q hold it down for the hip hop some of you purist crave. Its needed.


    Even though I'm obviously from Philly, I was never closed minded listening to hip hop ouside of the East Coast in the 90's: Big Mike, Cutta Calhoun, and even Crucial Conflict. Now hip hop is less regional that it once was. There will most likely NEVER be a "New York Sound" ever again thats popular.Times Change......fuck it.

  • milehighkid303

    Oldhead, or 90's baby, everybody gunna have their two cents on this issue. And for the record they should block you 90's babies from this article cause half you fucking punks don't know this shit, yes its music, but some of us GREW UP on this shit, so we take it to heart. With that said, the article was dope, I like the view the writer took. Now I don't fuck with ASAP, or ANY of these new dudes, I REFUSE, I, move how I THINK the rest of these "oldheads" should move, DONT EVEN CLICK, LISTEN OR PAY ATTENTION TO ANY OF THIS SHIT. Yes times change, let em change, am I mad? Nah, but I tell you this, I will never let the circumstances of Hip Hop dictate, what I listen to, how i dress, etc. The key is, IF YOU DONT LIKE IT, DONT LISTEN TO IT. The one thing I dont agree with, is that the SOUND out of NY is changing. Now, I dont live in NY but, shit, there are TOO many of us that still crave that. Bottom line here is the FANS are to blame, WE have made the artists lazy, THATS what you young fucking PUNKS dont get!! You see when we were growing up YOU COPPED CD'S, and you REFUSED to cop garbage, in fact I remember when there was a time you'd get your ass BOOOED off stage for the pen game not being proper. Nowadays, if you got that "Texas Swag" and that neat little hook all you boys look for so you can dance with your shawty, your good. There's just SO many variables that have changed hip hop its ridiculous. I just leave it like Nasir Jones said, "HIP HOP IS DEAD."

    • Dave

      Why was it only New York that was hating? Was they blasting Outkast in L.A like they were Snoop or Pac? Didn't 3000 make his comment to BOTH New York and Cali? So NY got all the hate just because the awards was in NYC? How fucking fair is that, especially when you see now that regions on fire never play shit from other regions? Does Atlanta play NY shit? Nope. Does Memphis play L.A shit? Nope. The West coast was in a slump from 97-2012, would they be in the slump if the south was fucking with they shit? Nope, but only NY caught hate when it wanted to listen to Nas, Biggie, Mobb Deep, Wu Tang, Tribe, Bootcamp, Jay-z, Pun, CNN, etc etc. How did anybody expect to break through that wall of fire? Where did Cube find a 2nd home when the NWA debacle happen? Where was Pac at all the time before he got lit up the first time? Where was "The Game" biggest selling market outside of L.A? Where do the newer acts like Kendrick, School boy Q call they 2nd home? Where did Odd Future get major radio spin for the first time, was it in they home state? You think Krit has a better chance of being played on NY radio or Houston radio? All these new artist get embraced first in NY, even Drake got embraced more in NY than other regions at first. You NY'ers start speaking up and check these idiots who throw shade. The whole country hate you, you're like the Yankees(ha, only right), or the U.S around the world, people want to see you fail but check this, the NY sound is still the most popular sound globally, get back to your roots and embraced the 80's vibe which I think is the best even though I grew up in the 90's and 2000's(born 80's), and mix in the high level of over abundance lyricism of the 90's(drop the anger/dustiness), abandoned the flood of punchlines(nobody will touch the god father Big L, or Jada, Fab, even Banks) but develop more substance and concepts but take it to new levels. I don't want the 90's or 80's back. Just make great music. P.S start calling out other region artist for sounding like NY'ers if they are lyrical and rhyming over dope beats if people want to play that game. Hey, why only pigeon hold NY(tristate) artist?

    • RBanga!

      Bro, chill. I was rocking with you comment until you threw that "Texas" comment in. That is EXACTLY what the problem is. Two things killed the NY sound: the cost of samples, and oldheads hating. There was a time that I would listen to anything if it wasn't from NY. I'm from Houston. I knew Premier (Waxxmaster C) when he was still at PVU (Prairie View University). I LOVE the old Hip Hop sound and I still DJ that way, but the rest of the country got sick of the fucking hating coming from fans in New York. When niggas didn't want to show love to OutKast, (And they were Waaaay more innovative than most artists) the rest of the country had enough. They had stories to tell and the fact that most of the music sampled by old school artists were from Southern artists back in the day was not lost on us. So we said FUCK y'all. We supported New York Hip Hop and got hate in return. Like Andre 3000 said, the "south got something to say". Crabs in a barrell. Anyway, I will ALWAYS love the BOOM BAP. If you want younger artists and fans to get back to the original hip hop, show how it is STILL relevant without dissing the shit they like now. Talking down on it only makes them love it more and causes the younger generation to block out our era. That's how you get French Montana and A$AP Rocky. -Peace

  • noahc313

    Times change. Music changes with time. People still love that sound but the sound is truly outdated. Every area of the country has seen their music change over the past decades. West coast had a hard time with it but now they are coming back stronger with a different sound. New York is just having a hard time adjusting. The city is so big it shouldn't have just one sound associated with it. Every borough is so different and neighborhoods within the respective boroughs are so different that you would expect more variety out of the place. With that said Harlem music has always had it's own feel to me though and not the typical New York sound. I'm lucky enough to live in Detroit where you can find influence from all over the map in the music. Great music being made here and no two sound the same.

  • LOL

    Wordy, fast Rap is not that appealing right now, the Toronto rapper said in a VEVO interview late last year. Its the artists that give you a chance to breathe and digest their words and use melody (that) are sort of on top right now. As much as you love or hate Drake, you have to admit he is one of mainstream Raps top representatives in todays market. If you believe Drake then you're completely thick, and you're facilitating the laziness of today's rappers. No artistry. You're getting cheated if you buy that rubbish.

    • Anonymous

      real shit bro! philly got some ill shit rockin now too Google: doap nixon, magnum o, burke the jurke, mekz one, freeway still rockin, has-lo, writtenhouse, reef the lost cauze, chief kamachi, jmt, Baby blak, too tuff, cee know the doodebugg, side effect

    • Anonymous

      Word. I don't know why this writer quoted Drake. That is my only issue with this article.

    • anon

      Word. I don't know why this writer quoted Drake. That is my only issue with this article. When you're writing about 90's hiphop you don't quote Will Smith

  • Hidden By Leaves

    ASAP Rocky's sound is influenced by wack shit and he is misrepresenting the entire east coast let alone NY. Rakim Allah should have slapped the shine out his mouth when he came through Angie show that day. There are plenty of old greats and new jacks killin it in NY right now, El-P, Sean Price, Cormega, OC, Goretex, Roc Marciano, KA, Action Bronson, Mayhem Lauren...the aforementioned list is how NY is supposed to sound. And FUCK that bullshit statement below BOOM-BAP will never die, that sound you speak of is polished, poppy and has no place in hip-hop SMHID

    • RBanga!

      Naw Man @JC. You are going to keep losing people if you are not open minded. Rick Ross has an excellent ear for music and he picks great breats with lush ass samples. You can't get more NEW YORK than that. When you guys just throw artists under the bus like that, that's how you lose folks. You remember how your parents used to hate on hip-hop and say it was filthy while they were listening to that nasty ass Clarence Carter or some those other nasty ass blues records? Remember how you felt? If we old heads blindly diss the new shot while we say our shit is the best, the kids will never listen and Boom Bap will die. When I produce artists, I play that old shit when we are chilling. They hear it and like it. I don't diss the shit they like. I show the parallels and they come over to my side. THey know what I don't like, but I don't diss them for liking it. I don't call it garbage. Next thing you know, they want to make music like the old school with their own twists. That's what we all need to do. That way, the old school Boom Bap, subway shit won't die. Hip hop will evolve, but it will still speak to us all. Stop the Motherfucking hate!

    • Anonymous

      Hell yeah check this dude, real NYC boom bap: Maffew Ragazino 'Where I'm From'

    • JC

      Agreed, I live in New York and I'm shaking my head that there are supposedly no good rap artists. That is total BS and continues to add fuel to this talked about falling off... People need to start supporting the real artists and spend less time bitching. GO see a show, go download an album of iTunes. And stop supporting all this trash ASAP wack ness, drake, ross, etc...garbage music for kids with no musical taste. Aforementioned list is on point - all these artists are rocking it in NYC right now: El-P, Sean Price, Cormega, OC, Goretex, Roc Marciano, KA, Action Bronson, Mayhem Lauren. Gotta add Pharaohe Monch, Talib, Homeboy Sandman, Skyzoo, Buckshot word

  • Anonymous

    The New York sound the author is referring to was never a universal sound. I'm from Texas and can remember listening to Illamatic, Only Built for Cuban Links, Ready to Die, and countless other New York classics thinking these dudes are rapping his asses off, but these beats leaves so much to be desired. The NY sound is hollow and lacks that 808 bass and distinct snares all other regions prefer.Essentially, NY beats are head phone music as opposed to music you ride to. The rest of the world drives to work/school/errands while New Yorkers ride the subway and hence listen to their music in a very different manner.With all due respect, the shit just wasn't jamming.Get over it NY.

    • NoBamaIshHere

      ^Nobody said anything about samples, this is about MCing. And btw, I could care less about what your NOI friend has to say regarding the Wu dropping mathematics in their songs. The Nations of Gods and Earths is not the Nation of Islam (most of them are 85% anyway), so if you wanna open your mouth on that subject, I suggest u come to the Allah School and get knowledge of self first. You right tho, this is all Black music at the end of the day, and we should have solidarity. What I didn't like was that boy above who was trying to disrespect the culture that was founded and built in NY and trying to distort it to fit today's nonsense... And yes it is nonsense. I don't give a shit if I sound "old" by saying that. Niggaz now don't rap with that extensive vocabulary, niggaz now don't drop science in their lyrics, niggaz now don't EVEN dare to talk about police brutality and the struggle. Fuck outta here if you wanna promote pop songs for hoodrats my brother. And btw, nobody in NYC ASKED for this nonsense to happen, it was forced on us by DJs and record labels who learned how to cash in on HipHop by the late 90s. Hence, we got wack shit coming from every place in the world now, including NY.

    • RBanga!

      I'm with the Texas boy. I'm from H-Town, (Houston). Like he said, he listened to the classics. I did too. He is right. Motown was successful because of the bass, but the shit from Stax and other southern labels get sampled more. It is hypocritical to ignore that the majority of the samples that the golden age used came from the South. Now, I don't like stupid ass lyrics either, but some of that shit niggas called lyrical was pure ass nonsense. Back in the day, I listened to some Wu Tang with a member of the Nation of Islam and he called bullshit on what they were saying. He said that shit wasn't real Islamic shit that they were saying. Just because they said that shit fast doesn't mean they were saying a damned thing. Listen, if we (Southerers) could listen to NY shit and love it, y'all could have listened to our shit too. The greatest producer in Hip Hop history, in my opinion, is DJ Premier. Damned if he ain't from TEXAS (Houston by way of Prairie View). Got Damn! We got to get out shit together. Love what you love, but don't dis folks because they come from somewhere else and have a different sound. Ignorant shit comes from everywhere (Chicken Noodle Soup? Harlem Stand Up!), not just from the South. Fuck y'all! The Black Universities are in the South. So, we are NOT any more stupid or dumb than the project niggas from the Bridge or Bed-Stuy or Marcy. Fuck Y'all just because we KNOW your hoods but you fail to show solidarity when we shout out the Tre' or the Bloody Nickel or South Oak Cliff. This shit is supposed to be Ghetto Music (shout out to KRS and BDP) and we have to show SOLIDARITY! Hip hop is not about closed minds. The lasting dominance of Southern Hip Hop (Hell, I'm suprised at how long it's been prominent) is because MORE people in the country can relate to the beats, the bass, the drums, the PURE AFRICA in that shit. On top of that, New Yorkers acted like assholes when it came to anything not from there. I've visited NYC and I love it, but fuck the dumb shit! Y'all did this shit to yourself. The reason that someone as lyrical as Jigga has lasted so long is because he NEVER hated on the South. If NYC fans has follwed his example, guess what? We wouldn't be having this conversation. The lesson? Hating NEVER fucking wins! Want to bring New York back? Have your new artists throw a couple Boom Bap tracks on their albums. Embrace us. You will get more brothers like 9th Wonder and Jay Electronica emerge from the South. New Yorkers will re-discover their sound. And we will protect nad elevate out culture as a national and worldwide one!

    • Anonymous

      I listen to NYC Classics real loud in my car all the time.

    • Chunk Dogg

      Haha so true. I know I'd rather listen to dope killer lyrics with real meaning Than some heavy bass southern tune with some low I.Q. rapper repeating non sense. Matter of taste I guess

    • Chunk Dogg

      Haha so true. I know I'd rather listen to dope killer lyrics with real meaning Than some heavy bass southern tune with some low IQ rapper repeating non sense. Matter of taste I guess

    • NoBamaIshHere

      Nah NY heads just value actually listening to substantive lyrics as opposed to bamas who love drums beating their heads while ignorant lyrics get phased out of the bassline. Get outta here with that nonsense

    • Anonymous

      Real talk.

  • IHateMorgy

    Traditional New york hip hop died a long time ago. a bit like it is in california now, you have to change and adapt. Kendrick Lamar and Fashawn dont sound anything like 90s DPG or Ice Cube. Get over it, move on and let new york be the new york it wants, not the one it was in the past.

  • Larrry

    the problem is, kids in my age group, 18-21 live in the club 24/7. They dont care about anything else, they just want to hear bass. Nas was right, Hip Hop is Dead

  • Anonymous

    people dont wanna hear that grimey shit anymore. the niggas that are winning are the niggas who are making club records 24/7.


    golden era is def still just gotta noe where to look



    • DD

      If they don't report the crap, they'll lose credibility, and thus an audience. Their hands are tied. It's actually the fault of the audience, for buying the pathetic, lazy shit in droves. Why buy this crap? No time or effort has been put into it. YOU'RE BEING CHEATED.

    • JihaD

      Meeks not from NY clownshoes. The music he makes was distinctly philly in its bounce and cadence. SMH. JihaD

  • ilikevideo


  • garbage

    fuck this era of new rappers. complete garbage. bunch of emotional ass, non-lyrically challenging, unoriginal retards ive ever heard. worst era of rap ever....

    • you're garbage

      shut up fool. shit ain't like anything ever recorded. write some better shit than that and we'll talk

  • Chris G

    The article is a good one and i agree on some aspects , but as some commenters pointed out , some of dj's need to stop playing a lot of the wack material out there. A lot of current rap has been dumbed down and if more artists like Action Bronson or Reks ( hey they got " radio songs" too!!!) got some play maybe they would get some " position on the Billboard chart". If people heard these artists on their airwaves maybe hip hop wouldn't be in such a sorry state. And before any of you "anynomous " peeps try to check me , I am a "old head" and appreciate all hip hop from all regions for 2 decades and like some of the new talent out there ( including Asap Rocky). Some of the "old heads" are stuck in the past , but doesn't mean everybody should start making "trap music" ( where is the balance???) if everyone sounds the same "chasing money" hip hop would really be generic as pop music is now. If NYC mc's aren't shining a blame the dj's because most NYC artists aren't getting spun. As long as there is underground and college outlets , some regional artists will get some shine...

  • Chris G

    The article is a good one and i agree on some aspects , but as some commenters pointed out , some of dj's need to stop playing a lot of the wack material out there. A lot of current rap has been dumbed down and if more artists like Action Bronson or Reks ( hey they got " radio songs" too!!!) got some play maybe they would get some " position on the Billboard chart". If people heard these artists on their airwaves maybe hip hop wouldn't be in such a sorry state. And before any of you "anynomous " peeps try to check me , I am a "old head" and appreciate all hip hop from all regions for 2 decades and like some of the new talent out there ( including Asap Rocky). Some of the "old heads" are stuck in the past , but doesn't mean everybody should start making "trap music" ( where is the balance???) if everyone sounds the same "chasing money" hip hop would really be generic as pop music is now. If NYC mc's aren't shining a blame the dj's because most NYC artists aren't getting spun. As long as there is underground and college outlets , some regional artists will get some shine... My radio/Internet show supports those artists , check it out at

  • Anonymous

    I think the main reason this is happening is cause people can go on their computers and get beats and music from anywhere in the nation, instead of having to take the beats and only listen to those from their specific region

  • DAVE

    Great article! All I have to add is: It don't matter where you from or what type of beat you are rhymin' too, lyrical skill should always apply! I prefer 90's Boom-Bap style hip-hop, but I can still rock with cats like T.I., Bun B, Twista, J. Cole, Rick Ross, etc., because they still have the ability to spit decent lyrics! Wacka Flocka, Chief Keef, Tyga, Kirko Bangz etc., are aight up wack in my opinion!

  • Anonymous

    Great Article..Belongs in Rolling Stone,the young punks cant appreciate it

  • Fuck you

    WHO FUCKING CARES? it's just music. A person from NY can rap or sound HOWEVER HE wants. Music is music. you oldheads are annoying as FUCK!

    • Anonymous

      you're a goof. it's hip hop essentials that are being dropped in favor for a candied up, weak snap.

    • Anonymous

      hell i aint old but i can still tell u "youngheads"(probably my age) what you listen to is straight bullshit fwyi sampling isnt stealing anyone's beats its putting a hiphop flava with bass on an oldie that few have heard of... if you wanna talk stealing why is it all these new beats by wack producers like Bangladesh sound the same? they are stealing each others wack ideas

    • Size Em Up

      What you young cats fail to realize is that most of these "artists" are using your own ignorance against you for profit. They know you don't expect shit from them so you wind up getting jack shit in return, and your satisfied with it. That's how we wound up with Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, 99% of the YMCMB roster, Chief Keef, Waka Flocka, A$AP Rocky, and so on. Don't be mad at us.

    • king kron

      @fucksampling fuck you.

    • Fuck sampling

      Agree, and further more fuck sampling!! These producers are benefiting of some one elses hard work. These dudes should produce their own shit

  • dslimm

    im listening to i dont like by cheef keef as i read these comments and im shaking my head like this is what they say is popping in the rap game. sad.

    • TEXAS

      Well the problem is your listening to cheef keef......WAIT? how can you even stand to listen every time I do my ears pop and bleed



  • JC

    Interesting read A little different to a COMPLEX MAG article last week which suggests NYC hip-hop is making a come back. Google Complex mag "Hip-hop's return to Power in the Mecca" Personally I think the youth have no idea, they are attracted to all the gimmicks, fake ass MC's like Drake, Rick Ross etc...that's just an immature appreciation of music. Get on Youtube and check out Maffew Ragazino Spit's like crazy There's a lot of good lesser known MC's , we just gotta support them at the shows

    • JC

      Fukk u anonymous fag. I bet you read that in the Youtube comments, real clever. It's brownsville sh1t if you know anything about that

    • Anonymous

      wooooooeeey, just looked up Maffew Ragazino on youtube, watched his video for "Where I'm From" ....and shit is god awful!!! please save yourself some time and don't take JC's advice!!! sounds like Fifty Cent would if he had gotten shot in the brain instead of the face

    • dslimm

      totally agree about maffew rag.

  • Mr. B.

    so many of todays more popular "raps" sound like nursery rhymes. either they're playing to an audience that hasn't moved beyond elementary levels of education, or they themselves haven't moved beyond them. or maybe it's the fact that so much of todays new york / boom bap music sounds exactly as it did in the past, making it much less appealing to support. why buy a new torae record when you have a nas or mobb deep record that is superior in a new york / boom bap sound? it could also be that those that love the golden era music find that to be the best time of their lives and can't move beyond that time.

  • Scott

    This article doesn't make any sense to me. You think rappers from certain areas should perscribe to certain sound? Fuck that. If you want territorialism and conformity go join a gang. Obviously the reason people like Rocky is because he's different. And if you think about it, he's not even that different; his influences are drawn from every region. Also, look at Odd Future in LA. You think Dre vibes to Left Brain's janky ass beats? Who cares where the artist is from. Its music not a fucking product.

  • DrectMoody

    Brilliant and very informative article. This may open the eyes of those aspiring to carry on tradition. Rakim being able to show love to a young newcomer like Asap Rocky should show you what direction we are going in. Change is not necessarily a bad thing. Getting redundant can be bad. Also, we are seeing more of a balance in our genre than we have in recent memory. A "hip hop head" should read this.

  • Anonymous

    after this wack era and a few more there will be a hip hop renaissance era that's going to be better than the Golden Era

  • Anonymous

    more producers need to use 12 bit samplers that is where the grime u hear in golden-era records lives.

  • Up North

    When producers are more known and releasing more albums than the actual MC's, you've got a problem. The beats have become more important than the message it's intended to convey. Plus, the "ice" era of hip hop turned an art that required skill into a fashion show. The pride of being the nicest on the mic has faded. Take a look at most rap blogs and you'll hear more about what these so called artists twitted than what they actually put down on wax. I think the traditional, skill is a necessity style of rap is making a comeback tho. Bart Scott voice: CAN'T WAIT!!!

  • kayaman

    Joey Bada$$ is on a come up....very talented young individual

  • Nash_Walt

    Good article, if you miss good real hip hop from east,west,south,midwest give us a listen, we play it all and its not even close to what you hear on the radio. Good widespread Hip Hop lives here.

  • Steve

    But I also feel the new generation is getting more lyrical on the west coast. You got black Hippy. Kendrick fucking rips tracks. And in the south you got KRIT. Krit aint super lyrical, but hes got bars

  • Anonymous

    why is this faggot lil wayne dickrider drake taking about hip hip, he is fucking RnB...

  • Regional rap R.I.P

    Good article. But it's not just about the death of New York rap. Regional variety has started to disappear which is bad for hip hop. West Coast rappers make commercial southern records with zero funk. And few southern rappers make that space age music that pushed the envelope of production in the late 90's. Even the midwest had its own sound. It's to do with record companies and the death of regional radio.

  • JOE

    it would be nice to see ASAP rocky over premier.. make it happen

  • JOE

    Alot of the (SOUTH SOUND) cheap trap beats are promoted to the sound waves by NEW YORK.. Djs Like Funk Master Flex and DJ CLUE,, Kay slay are promoting this "Trap musik" ..they have the power to change the whole front of American Hip Hop. they choose not to because they are getting checks from big time labels... they need to get off the money train..

  • philly

    As an east coast native from philly we all hope that are hiphop Legends come back and take over, we are hoping we get nasty nas on his next album not nas fucked up over divorce, we all hope methodman drops crystal meth and it goes hard, blackout 2 no complaint but his last few solo projects,weren't 100%, being from philly I hope beanie sigel makes this hard come back and stops Fuckin up cause hes the closest we will ever get to another Biggy, beans always spit hard and it made sense, I cant understand how this new generation can listen to songs that they say nothing that gives u the wow factor to hit rewind and they cant tell a story. now a days the rewind button got mad dust on it/cant bring it back if it whack Joell Ortiz. Right now we got slaughterhouse to hold down the lyrical part of the game, people that dont like them cant understand the ryhms cause they too complex for a youngin. Joe Budden always went hard and has a messege,, crooked I is a monster from the west, Joell holds down brooklyn and Royce DA 5'9 is better then ever after I heard his collab bad meets evil wit eminem he stayed wit him on every track and some times out shined him. But eminem still lyrically kills everything and it gets radio play so the generation aint gone, they was just chillin now they comin back

  • Malachi Myers-- hip-hop head d-__-b

    This article reakky changed my life... Deadass lol. Remember the name MALACHI MYERS.

  • JOE

    i think the main problem if any is the big corprate machine (Big time record labels) and Radio stations. People dont control what they listen to, the machine does. It starts at the top. Yet this did not mention KANYE WEST!.. who sells millions of records and is a huge producer of Boom Bap and heavy sampled sounds (NY SOUND).. Djs and radio stations have the power to sway the machine a certian direction... lets see if it can happen.

    • tyson

      Man, I get what you're saying but you can't even say Kanye in the same breath as Buckwild or Premo when it comes to "classic NY sound".

  • z

    The people who run this county found a way to keep our younger generation dumbed down. They throw money at these young artists if they keep their message ignorant. I don't hate on them, they are getting their's not their fault they have to survive. It's the corporate interests that run shit. MC's with a true message of intellectual and personal growth are still out there but you have to dig for it. Peace

  • Manny

    What's been the biggest departure from original sound? NY/East Coast or the South?

    • Anonymous

      i would have to say the ny/east coast. because the author is making a valid point. to sell records, some of the ny artists are going out of there way to make records that the pop audience loves. there's nothing wrong with that, but it destroys the creativity in hip hop music...

  • fodder

    As an east coast cat, I am really exhausted by this point. Still, the writer made his point eloquently. I have more hope in the veterans taking it back than ASAP Rocky, Bronson or these new guys. Just look at the best albums this year, theyre from NY cats. Where's the complaint?