BY MATTHEW J.X.
WU-TANG CLAN PHOTO
COURTESY o RCA RECORDS
CRAIG MACK PHOTO
COURTESY OF ARISTA RECORDs
O DISRESPECT TO
the West, true
indeed// I rock it
to the East/ The
East is the seed."
- Lauren Hill of the Fugees,
from "Nappy Heads" remix.
Don't look now, but the seed
may be sproutin' again. We all
know it's been a West Coast, Doggy
Dogg world for the past couple of
years. MTV and pop radio made
heroes of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and
Snoop - but no rapper from east
of the Mississippi was invited to the
party. Hip-hop shifted away from
its birthplace in New York City as
the media and the record-buying
public began to favor lazy P-funk
beats over intricate lyrics, gangstas
over poets and Compton over all.
Then, by some form of divine
hip-hop intervention, a chain reac-
tion of sorts swept outward from the
rotten apple. The Wu-Tang Clan
dropped "Protect Ya Neck," Nas
showed that the world was his, Craig
Mack blew up the spot with "Flava
In Ya Ear" and the Notorious B.I.G.
began his bar- Stage," and
rage on the the two also
B i ll b o a r d contribute a
charts. Sud- verse on a
denly, there posse cut for
were whispers the East
throughout Coast all-star
the industry album The
about an East D&D Project.
Coast resurgence. "I check broth-
ers out there like AZ, Nas and
Manhattan Mobb Deep," says Raekwon.
transfer "They're making it more real...
"People on the East and you gotta respect that."
Coast began to realize that This type of camaraderie
they had to take their music was nowhere to be found a
to a different level, because a few years ago, but the new
lot of the stuff was gettin' breed of East Coast artists
see"ms to1vatue toe opportuni
while retaining street credibility.
The Boogiemonsters, who refer to
the Roots as one of their "brother
groups," rely heavily on spirituality
and an ever-fluid style, which they
hope to use as a tool in changing
hip-hop. One of their goals is to
bring the music away from repeti-
tion and dryness - thus, the water
imagery on their debut Riders of the
Storm: The Underwater Album.
"When we talk about water, it's
like we want to take hip-hop under
water for a baptism, because a lot of it
is dirty right now," says Yodared, one
of the four-man Boogienionster crew.
"We're trying to inspire a move
toward righteousness. There's a line
being drawn in hip-hop... with two
definite sides - the side of the wicked-
ness and the side of righteousness.
There's people straight talkin' about
murder as acceptable and degrading
women as acceptable. We're trying to
move away from that, and we know
not everyone is going to follow, but
we're trying to set the pace so those
who want to come out and speak right-
eousness can follow our lead."
East Coast family
But will new East Coast artists
follow the lead of the Boogiemon-
sters, Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie and
the others? Are we seeing the open-
ing stages of a long-term upswing in
East Coast hip-hop or just being
blessed by a very cool filse alarm?
Powell is not sure.
"I don'tiknow if I'd call what
we're seeing a resurgence." says Pow-
ell. "People are realizing that they
have to change things up, and that's
cool, but I don't know if a few groups
blowin' up makes it a resurgence yet."
All seeds need time to grow. Let's
hope this is only the beginning.
Matthew J.X. Malady is a senior magazine
major at Syracuse U. Hetwantsyou to vote
Q-Tip in '96.
old," says Kevin Powell, staff
writer for Vibe magazine.
"Things had to change."
And they have. In fact, change is
"The East is definitely back in
the ballpark," says Wu-Tang's Chef
Raekwon. "We brought it to a level
where skills are everything."
Newer East Coast artists are
invoking an unyielding lyrical
street flow - the kind of dense
word play that echoes a time when
Kane was Big Daddy, Rakim was
king and Eric B. was president.
But this time around, the rappers
are getting paid. Debuts by Wu-Tang
and Biggie Smalls soared past the plat-
inum mark, and first efforts by Nas,
Mobb Deep, Method Man, Old Dirty
Bastard and Smifn Wessun all reached
I ere's people
about murd er as
trying to move
away from that"
YOoDARED OF THE
sale levels formterly' achieved hi'unit' a
select few veterans on the East Coast.
Chatnge is also registeritngott the
charts.Sitngles by Ness York artists
ton frequently shots up on the Bill-
board top 10 and New York radii
station Hiot 97 (WQHTI) sass its rat-
togs skyrocket whcit it switched toi
predominantly East Coast hip-hog
format. Mote impoitantly, the ten
arttists themselves ate bucking past
trends of ecompetitioit andI ricalryi
faisor of cioopera tton atnduity
Guest spots otn albums are notissvistire
commnt than ever, and there seerns
to be a real sentse of commnunitg
brewing as rappers realize the value
of collaboration for the music's sake.
"Everybody's comin' together.
and there's not as mutch jealousy,
envy and attimosity," says Tek of
Smif n Weston, one of the many'
sew groups that have been more
than willing to lend ouit their skills ini
an effort to help their brethren. Both
Tek and his partner Steele rapped on
Black Moon's debut "Enta Da
seems to value the opportunity
to work with other talented rap-
pers. "It's all one love, and we're a part
of that," says Tek. "We're just doin'
our thing, and keepin' the music alive."
New artists are also keeping the
East Coast tradition of hip-hop inno-
vation alive. Following in the lofty
footsteps of innovators like A Tribe
Called Quest, De La Soul, and Diga-
ble Planets, both the Roots and the
Boogiemonsters are taking the musi-
cal form to new levels of creativity.
Both bands recently released
stellar debuts that have critics and
true hip-hop fans drooling over the
welcome change of pace. The Roots
are the first group to fuse purely live
instrumentation and lyrical dexterity
New York's Wu-Tang Clan -
Obi-Wan has taught them well.
32 U. Magazine August/September 1995
Craig Mack -
the Force is strong with him.
R+R COVER PHOTO BY CARL POSEY