The Power & Reemergence of East Coast Rap Music


In the trough of the American commercial landfill, the denizens scatter and forage for their will to survive and the will of finding purpose. During their search for a meaningful exit, the denizens find the sacramental artifacts needed to lead their people out of the trough. Through nights of thoughtful experimentation and calculable measurements, the denizens crafted their caliber and led the scene for the nation to behold, with a microphone, MPC, and literary talent. The talents out of this landfill become the intolerant and intelligent voice for the strife-stricken landfill and demand the ears of the oblivious citizenry.

During the emphasis and grandeur exposure of breakbeat Rap music cultivating during the 1970’s and spearing throughout commercial America throughout the 1980’s, there was a significant uprise in young artists catching the wave of the urban industry, mostly the youth from the areas which Rap represented at the time. The shift from the latent intricacies of the art form did not really reach its pervasive musical threshold until today but nonetheless held its piercing voices that led the ball rolling. The upfront and in-your-face persona of Public Enemy was initially found in 1982, as their social perspective was made more clear and transparent throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s with the upscaling distress of racial upheaval after the Civil Right Era.

This type of transformation was consistently in tune with New York culture, as adaptive as it was with the trends. New York artists and groups like Public Enemy allowed eventual artists to proliferate their anger with explosive dialect and constructed preaching, over abstract samples, breakbeats and pronounced background noise. Throughout the 1980’s, groups and artists such as Eric B. and Rakim, Salt N’Pepa, and Run D.M.C. allowed the genre to creep into the homes of middle America from their beachside neighbors, and inform them of both the dangers and beauty of the culture they represent just a flight away from their nearest airport. These groups were steel-imposed and staunch with their joyful attitude and hard-hitting energy that captivated the youth in America, leading their adolescent rage in the new wave. This wave was thought out, rewritten, and edited throughout the age of breakbeat dancing and chain-wearing attire.

New York at this point had its reputation for expelling these artists into the business world and allowing their image to reflect and transform the urban character into something new and bold. These artists weren’t necessarily speaking out of the harsh realities of urban New York, but let their background create four-minute listening sessions of portrayed bad attitude and evocative energy that successfully resonated in the American psyche.

This type of movement eventually led to the infamous era of warped background sampling and advanced lyricism. This type of advancement in the form of art, besides the politically boisterous songs from Public Enemy, could be dated back to the likes of Naughty by Nature, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest, all natives to the East Coast throne of musical geniuses. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, west coast groups such as N.W.A. helped catalyze the Rap movement with their abstract noise and equated the talent that the East Coast founding fathers had. Although in terms of sales and numbers, they managed to vanquish the forefathers and claim their position in music history.

As a reaction, the East Coast brought along prolific musicians such as Naughty by Nature as well as Big L but now adding more flare into their sonic constructions and most prominently, the enhancement of their lyricism. East Coast musicians, most notably from New York, were becoming those of English provocateurs and spoken-word preachers, adding their ghetto tongue and flare to their communicational processions. The aligning of the bars were no longer in cadence with the one-tempo beats, but now in tune with attacking each tempo with complex wordplay and a condensed deconstruction of their poetry.  This can be vividly exemplified by one of Naughty by Nature’s hit songs released in 1993, Hip Hop Hooray. Each of the three members articulates their attack in sped-fast motion over an otherwise simple but jovial two-step beat and added sampling.

This augmented formula had revisioned an otherwise already prolific genre and stumbled upon an unrecognized cornucopia of lyrical talents such as most of the recognizable faces of Rap music to this day, such as Nas, Biggie Smalls, Mobb Deep, and Method Man. The 1990’s managed to bring Rap from an international course of artists and created a worldwide study as an art form and imperative movement in urban culture. Whilst an innovative era can bring upon the perks and luxuries of redefining an industry, many good things come to an end. During the last couple of years of the 1990’s and the entrance of the new millennium, the genre had to grow and reform into something new in order to stay relevant and alive. The menacing tones and descriptive, gritty storytelling were being manifested into party anthems, shot into nightclubs and fraternity gatherings.

As the natural process of an industry accepts and delves into change, once in a while, the original curators of the era become nostalgic and inadept for the rapid changes occurring. The 90’s children had children of their own, played their collections of Black Star and Pete Rock tapes, and allowed the music to synch into the psyche of the young minds of the new century. These young minds grow up and learn to read in school, find their innate ability to use vulgarity in the school cafeteria with the astonishment of their classmates in middle school and find careers with their genetic capability. The result of these newborn prodigies seemed to have been birthed after the essential rise of the Trap era, reacting against the apparently lackluster and mind-numbing club music being displayed at the time.

The results included the young lyricists such as the likes of Joey Bada$$, Ratking, and The Underachievers. These prominent lyricists in no matter of time garnered fame from the audience yearning for intellectual combat. Elevating their lyrical propositions, they enable modern sounds to quietly ring in the background with typical Jazz samples or pushing, technical experimental sounds. With Ratking, their debut and only album released amassed an audience of young skaters and graffiti artists that held the same tribal power in the past generations. Ratking’s So It Goes album was experimental, hard and compressing, but equally layered by rapper Wiki and Hak’s mind-twirling and thought-provoking poetic prose. In the minds of these young musicians, where they come from is usually one of the main components of their industrial battle. When Wiki raps over the hard-hitting and fast-stuttering beat, So Sick Stories, he yaps, and heaves with boggling poetry that stampedes atop the snare drums and careening, polished samples. His wordplay describes the grody lifestyle of the young and reckless runner of the littered streets he witnessed during his upbringing. This story then switches to the philosophical prose from Hak, who periodically switches from crooning and lecturing his wordplay about his vision of the world he embedded in his bloodstream.

Joey Bada$$ may be one of the most note-worthy rappers out there today, with the torch held by his beyond-his-years lyrical play over the industrial but alleviating beats his crew carefully culls from whatever equipment they’ve amassed in the studio. His previous work proved otherwise, with his unrelenting approach comparable to that of the iconic Biggie Smalls.

This era may be the highest threshold that Rap music may be able to handle with all the variations of the genres, as well as the dialects supporting their vision of the art form, but that would be underestimating the young yet powerful movement it has led since the 1970’s. Now with the advent of the internet being displayed in nearly every consumer’s hand, Rap music has understandably been culled from nearly every major city in the nation and every major city-state in the world. From the hushed and dreary Rap music from London to the now all-prevailing force of Atlanta’s Trap music, the genre has set its foot in every patch of dirt conceivable in the world. Although this may be the case, the trough of the once regal shrine has left notes that it intends to come back at some point.

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