There is with no doubt a return of the hip-hop everyone thought was dead. A small class of rappers such as Joey Bada$$/ ProEra, The Underachievers, Flatbush Zombies have emerged from the underground and with this, have re-invited the, cassette tape sounding, boom bap ‘flavour’ back into the hip-hop scene. In mirroring the sound of hip hop in the ‘Golden Era’, I ask whether the new emerging East Coast artists are merely bringing old New York rap music back or… rebranding the ‘Golden Era’ for the appreciation of our (less enlightened) generation.
Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Big L, DJ Premier, KRS-One, Jay-Z, Busta, and Biggie amongst others gave us this ‘Golden Era’ which is itself known to be a very prominent time in music – an overall a successful sound from the streets to the radio. Highly influential and innovative, it spilled into other spheres of general life i.e. fashion. This period was the 80s, early 90s, predominately.
This music had left us in a sense making room for some new artists, new sounds, different culture and different lifestyles. But still most hip hop lovers have established that the ‘Golden Era’ period was where a lot of good music, rather, the best rap music, came out from. However, it seems as if a ‘New Golden Era’ is in our midst and being spare headed by those labelled the ‘New New York’ (or ‘Beastcoast’). These artists, namely, ProEra etc. all originate from New York urban areas themselves. The line “New New York” is repeated in a quite a few tracks I’ve been listening to recently the best example being‘New New York’ by the Underachievers. So at some point these artists have recognised their influence in the scene and also their contribution as being a revived version of their city’s musical past. Regardless, these are some of the new artists I’ve become very in-like with as it is highly nostalgic – with their common use of fresh, yet mellow and hazy instrumentals. Further, the renewed sound is greatly achieved with some background producers like Eric Arc, Chuck Strangers and Statik Selektah, the ProEra DJ.
SpotlightFirst places emphasis on new artists. The artists above are not necessarily the newest but I have identified them as being quite innovative in their approach to hip hop music quite recently just as a number of blogs have – renewing the old hip hop once loved. Joey Badass, first in command for ProEra says:
Only mainstream hip hop is dead.
Underground Hip Hop is alive and well in a new Platinum Age!”
The ProEra group emerged in 2009 as a group of young, like-minded students filled with talent and an apparent urge to show it all off – All 47 of them.
ProEra – Cypher
Joey Badass himself has attracted attention from some industry vets i.e. DJ Premier to collaborate with showing their likeness, compatibility and mutual understanding of hip hop – I like to think that these artists do not appear to have forged their music or style making their presence in the music scene very authentic and very much welcomed.
ProEra – Renaissance
Kirk Knight of ProEra – Florist
As part of the function of hip hop as well, the lyrical content and subject-matter of these artists are very much up to par. The Golden Era and the ‘New New York’ is similar in that they both have the extra, value-laden element of passing on more meaningful messages. (The more commercial tend to be absent of this). However the distinguishing point are the themes such as cleansing auras/chakras, higher consciousness, (their lack of care for religion) and all that appear more in todays – themes of which I’ve not seen explored, in as much depth, through hip hop music before. The Flatbush Zombies duo alone seem very unapologetic about some of their beliefs which are blatantly ungodly and gruesome (if you can’t tell by their name). Yet, they remain very intriguing. In addition to that, there’s the added element of promoting the use of recreational/ psychedelic drugs as opposed to selling it to aid the ‘opening-up’ of the mind (much less about ‘trapping’) accompanied with trippy videos and artwork.
Underachievers – Gold Soul Theory
Overall, their music is far from ‘mainstream’. As their messages are strong, they’re also subtle and, as I’ve been doing, may draw you in to looking into things further.
Flatbush Zombies – GTearz
Next to come are:
– Joey Bada$$- B4.Da.$$
– Pro Era– The Shift
– Flatbush Zombies– It’s All a Matter of Perspective
– The Underachievers – The Cellar Door