Birdman has claimed that the South will remain at the top of the Hip Hop food chain for years to come.
The Cash Money Records co-founder recently sat down for an insightful conversation on the 85 South Show, where reflected on Southern Hip Hop’s early struggles in the 1990s be taken seriously by the East and West Coasts, who at that time were the dominant regions.
“The East and the West was the last two places that would embrace our music if you were from the South,” Birdman said. “It’s always been a competitive thing for us with them — ’cause they felt like they was better than us and we felt like we was better than them, especially in our neck of the woods, the South.”
He continued: “You’ll have a hit in the South and it’ll take a long time to hit in the East and the West. But once they caught onto us like it is now, I don’t think they’ll ever get it back. We here forever, ’cause they had it forever. The East and the West, they had it forever.
“It was challenging for us coming up. Very, very challenging because they wouldn’t play our music in no kinda way.”
Birdman then gave props to Jermaine Dupri for kicking down doors for Southern Hip Hop.
“Jermaine Dupri really broke that barrier for us down South cause he went up there and really made them play our music ’cause they wouldn’t play our music at all,” he said of the So So Def hitmaker, who in addition to his solo success played a key role in the careers of Da Brat, Kris Kross and other ’90s rappers.
“I got a lot of respect for Jermaine Dupri. They wouldn’t play our music and Jermaine Dupri went up there and was fighting for us. Our music would be his down bottom, and it’d be four, fix, six months before it’ll be hit on the East and West Coast.
“But now, it ain’t like that. Our music hit more up there than down here, but ain’t nothing but love for the East and the West.”
Birdman’s sentiment is one that is shared by many Southern rap acts — although the question of who is responsible for putting the South on the map is a hotly-contested one.
During an interview with AllHipHop last month, CeeLo Green said that his legendary Atlanta rap group Goodie Mob deserve credit for paving the way for Southern rap’s eventual dominance.
“I think that’s definitely our contribution to the culture and to community — being able to spearhead and set into motion the rise and reign of Southern Hip Hop,” he said. “We fought those first wars, and we fought for the civil rights and the equality of Hip Hop. And with that equality, we gave the sentiment and the sound a certain kind of quality.”
He continued: “There was an accountability here of where we wanted to do it pridefully, effectively and successfully. It was very important to have integrity as a curriculum as we taught it to be as it flowed through and was passed down as an inheritance to the ones who wave that banner today.”
Meanwhile, Jermaine Dupri previously took credit for New York radio stations playing Southern Hip Hop, echoing Birdman’s above comments.
“The reason New York plays down South music on the radio is because of me,” JD said during a December 2022 appearance on The Gauds Show. “Bone Crusher and the YoungBloodZ were all over Hot 97 in a way that like nobody could ever imagine. And I hired DJ Envy to work for me.”
He added: “My attack on New York radio and the New York streets from the South is like no other. Nobody, no other company, nothing. Not as far as back then, now everybody else moving forward, that door opened cause I was out there beating the streets.”