The 2010s: The Resurgence of New York Rap
During the early to mid 1990s, the music scene was alive with the sound of New York City rap music: Notorious BIG, JAY Z, Nas, the Wu Tang Clan and more represented for the East Coast all through this decade where New York City was on top of the hip hop world. However, as the scope of rap popularity shifted southwards to Florida, Atlanta and New Orleans, some of that traditional grimy sound, comprised of boom bap drums and the sampling of soul and RnB classics, fell behind. Instead, rap music became centered on catchy hooks and booming southern instrumentals.
Over the years, the south has continued to be a powerhouse in rap music, though cities such as Los Angeles have made a resurgence while cities like Chicago and Toronto have proven themselves as centers of rap culture. However, New York never really got back to normal: most of the artists coming out of here were either insignificant or they sounded like they were from Atlanta. However, come the 2010s, that traditional New York sound has made its way back – with a vengeance.
In the early 2010s, hip hop collective A$AP Mob, headed by star player A$AP Rocky, became a huge force. Though their sound was not entirely traditional New York rap, it certainly borrowed elements from their forefathers. Not long after, a group of Caribbean teens from Brooklyn grew their fan base as the Pro Era, headed by traditional lyricist Joey Bada$$, rose to stardom. Though the latter group has not necessarily received the recognition that the A$AP Mob has, they became famous off of a completely traditional Brooklyn rap sound, right out of 1993.
As the decade has continued, artists such as Dave East and Young M.A. have come along. Though the instrumentals rapped on by these artists are often Atlanta trap-infused, they no doubt still have that unique New York feel and their gritty lyrics tell you that they’re surely from the city. Young M.A. got particularly famous off of her hit “OOOUUU” which featured a beat that was unapologetically New York with the traditional boom bap drums and a sampled guitar riff. This brought a song into the spotlight that sounded like it was from the golden age of New York City hip-hop. Some argue that New York rap is stagnated. I argue that while it has certainly evolved, it is alive and well.