Rap has always been about repping where you’re from. And, although The Bronx is credited as the birthplace of Hip-Hop, over nearly 40 years, the music and culture have spread to just about every city and town in America – and across the globe, too. Repping where you’re from these days might mean shouting out Wichita, Kansas or San Diego, California or Meridian, Mississippi or Toronto, Canada.
Shout whatever region you want, but for the past 15 years, no other locale has been on a mission to rule rap like The South. Check the figures – the most popular artists and chart-topping songs ruling radio and online today are Southern, and the phenomenon is seemingly unstoppable. Ever wonder why? There are reasons. AllHipHop.com lists its “Top 5 Reasons The South Keeps Winning (and Beating the Rest of You)”:
1. Marketing 101: Movements & Styles With Names
The smartest thing the South ever did was display its pioneering awareness of Marketing 101. The South segmented itself into movements and styles early on, creating a lane for every type of rap listener from “the country.” Just think “Crunk” in Memphis and later Atlanta, “Chopped and Screwed” in Houston, “Electronic-Bass” in Miami, and on and on, for examples of the genius branding of Southern rap.
Yes, the other coasts and regions have had movements and names, too – “Hyphy” in Cali and “Ratchet” in Chicago are two good examples. But, you would be hard-pressed to find as many movements across the country as those saturating the “Dirty South”. Winning.
2. Distinct Cultures That Make For Good Gumbo
With a region that spans across cities including Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, New Orleans, Memphis, Virginia Beach, and Miami, the South can’t be beat when it comes to stirring up a pot of diverse Hip-Hop gumbo. There are bound to be cultures galore when music and artists come from so many different places – with Luke dancers.
So how does the rest of the country prevail against the strength of all that Southern goodness? Well, they don’t prevail – at least not for right now. Sure, the East Coast has its cultures, but it all feels like too much city with just too many people, and the cultures somehow get lost in the mix. Mile for mile, from dirt roads to country projects and sprawling metropolises, the Dirty South just plain covers the most territory. Winning.
3. Southernplayalistic Gentlemanliness
Rappers from the South personified characters early on that set them apart from their mostly macho, Urban-infused counterparts in other cross-country ‘hoods. Even the reigning prince of the South, 2 Chainz, has a certain Southernly charm, with his molasses slow accent and appreciation for ample women.
Consider Outkast with songs like “Rosa Parks” and “Sorry, Ms. Jackson”, or rappers like Bun B or Killer Mike or David Banner, who govern themselves by a militant cool yet Grandma-honoring, mannerly set of standards. This “Slower Living, Southern Man” persona has allowed for a more diverse set of images to emerge from within their music. From Project Pat to Cee Lo Green to Big K.R.I.T. to current king of the strip clubs Juicy J, and everywhere in between…Winning.
4. A Willingness to Sleep Around
The East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest patented the art of the posse – like N.W.A. (Cali), Boot Camp Clique (East Coast), Bone Thugs N Harmony (Midwest), Wu-Tang Clan (New York), and a zillion more. Cliques and crews ran rampant in ’80s and ’90s rap, especially in those parts of the country – possibly a reflection of the gang culture that permeated their streets.
But, it can be argued that the South was the first to fully embrace the Cross-continental Collaboration Movement that still runs rap today. Is it the way Southerners kindly open their doors and dinner tables to strangers? Nope – it’s probably a result of continuous winning, causing other regions to have to get on board. Once Cash Money and others started looking for talent outside their borders, they ended up creating nearly unstoppable forces – a la Young Money featuring Nicki Minaj (New York), Lil Wayne (New Orleans), Drake (Canada), Tyga (California), etc. etc. Winning.
5. Heck, It’s Where Nearly All Black Americans & Black Music Originated
At the end of the day, props must be paid to the South as the origin place of nearly all Black folks in America. In the bayous of Louisiana and juke joints of Alabama, Black Music was born, drawing from our slave history (the Blues), our African ancestry (Jazz and Gospel), and our super-creativity (Rock and Rap).
It only seems right then that the true rap innovators over the past 10 to 15 years have come from below the Mason-Dixon Line (look that up, kiddies). The range of production styles, sampling, and borrowed influences from other musical genres is endless. Look to a newer generation of Southern rappers and producers for signs of continued musical greatness – artists like Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. truly represent the best of what happens when you blend the Old South with the New. Winning.
Agree or disagree? Rep for your coast in the comment section!