New York City has always been the Mecca of this hip-hop shit. The lineage of emcees is lengthy and historic: Chuck D, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Nas, Jay-Z... the list goes on. But over the last few years the death knoll has been ringing for NYC rap...until a new generation emerged to give the city life.
Is the golden age of New York City hip-hop returning? Did it ever really leave? Over the next few weeks we'll be breaking down what's currently going on in the Big Apple in our "
" series, starting with the Beast Coast Movement.
One of groups RefinedHype nation has been trying to figure out for a while now is what EXACTLY does “Beast Coast” represent. Who is “Beast Coast?” And who isn’t? While there are a lot of affiliates, “Beast Coast” itself is a collective comprised of four groups: Pro Era, Phony Ppl, Flatbush Zombies, and The Underachievers. All four crews are based out of Brooklyn.
Pro Era, of course, is Joey Bada$$’s crew, primarily consisting of emcees. Taking the hip-hop world by storm with the first video they dropped, “Survival Tactics”, the crew’s collaborative mixtape, “
” garnered praise for the chemistry amongst crew-members and the high-caliber of lyricism. The crew’s buzz has also increased thanks in part to a couple of unfortunate events: the short-lived beef that Joey had with Lil B and the passing of Capital Steez.
Outside of Joey and Steez, CJ Fly has emerged as a second-in-command, of sorts. In addition to him, Kirk Knight and Chuck Strangers have garnered some attention, with the latter spreading out on the production side,
They definitely have a lot of energy, and are renowned (and sometimes criticized) for having a “throwback” style and sound, augmented by the fact that the main project Joey has dropped to date is called “1999.”
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The leader of Phony Ppl might be Elbee Thrie, but the main attraction of this rap group/band has been Dyme-A-Duzin, who has been signed to
as a solo artist and just
through the label. Dyme is a talented emcee who went to high school school with Joey and a lot of the other Pro Era members, but his style is considerably different. Part of the reason is that Dyme and Phony Ppl deliver a sound that is more pop music oriented. After all, Dyme-A-Duzin is working heavily with producers
and Plain Pat.
As a group, Phony Ppl are comparable to the Chicago group Kids These Days. While not necessarily keeping it throwback, boom-bap the way Pro Era does, this is a very talented collection of artists.
Flying Lotus scooped up this rap duo for his Brainfeeder Label, and for good reason. The Underachievers, Issa Dash and Ak, devote their bars to more esoteric ideals than the other groups, making them the most “left-field” of the collective, per se. The title of their recently-released mixtape, “Indogoism,” says it all.
That said, don’t confuse the content for thinking that these are a pair of “lyrical miracle spiritual” rappers. Their goal is to enlighten, to “open your chakras,” so to speak, but it’s the content and not the lyrics themselves that are likely to go over listeners’ heads. Some people will understand the meaning behind “
”, such as the late Capital Steez, who considered this his favorite song off Indigoism. For others, this is just chill, head-nod music.
The antithesis of The Underachievers are the Flatbush Zombies, who are very bit as crazy as their name implies. The Zombies are a trio comprised of Meechy Darko, Jewice, and Erick Arc Elliot, the group’s primary in-house producer. They are known for their bizarre yet dope music videos, outlandish fashion statements, and very frenetic, energetic rap style, designed for mosh pits and riots.
“Thug Waffle” the video that pushed them into prominence, epitomizes what the Zombies are about. Lots of kush, lot’s of waffles, lots of grills, and lots of energy. And of course,
to date wasn’t even on their own project.