Monday, August 13, 2007

Everybody Wanna Be A Star

Another theory to add to my growing list of prophecies about the decline in relevance of East Coast rap is the simple fact that no one seems to come out in a group setting anymore. What happened to the days of A Tribe Called Quest, Boot Camp Clik, Wu-Tang Clan, Junior Mafia, or even G-Unit? Many simply choose to release a barrage of mixtape material in hopes of eventually spawning enough of a following to sell the customary 200,000 units. Take Gravy and Red Cafe, for instance. Both were signed to Violator Management in the early 2000s as members of a group entitled Da Franchise. Other than a few street singles and a few appearances on both volumes of the Violator compilation, the group never came to fruition and both soon set out on their own. Gravy has since descended into the abyss of the New York mixtape scene, only bubbling up to make headlines for the bizarre Hot 97 incident that left him with a bullet lodged in his posterior. Red Cafe has been kicking around for years, essentially becoming a lower grade knockoff of Fabolous, Fat Joe, and any other NYC rapper that's had mainstream success in the past 5-10 years. The state of the game in the 718 is sad enough that Saigon and Papoose, both of whom have received backing from major heavyweights in the game, have yet to put an album, although they both claim to have finished one for some time now. Papoose has since resorted to dropping a Snoop Dogg/Scott Storch collaboration in an attempt to keep his buzz alive. Meanwhile, Saigon has come with the Swizz Beatz collabo "C'mon Baby", name dropping his Entourage appearance for the umpteenth time. Once these two finally put out their albums, who does New York have left? Jadakiss? His recent appearances on remixes for Wall To Wall, Wipe Me Down, and the moronic Ay Bay Bay reek of desperation, and that's not even to mention his 2 seperate collabos with Rick Ross. Fat Joe? After making one last effort with last year's criminally underrated Me, Myself, & I LP, he seems to be content in his status as an honorary southerner and being the weakest rapper on a song that includes Birdman and Rick Ross. As much as I enjoy Dipset, Cam'ron's star has been waning for some time now, and Juelz and Jimmy's efforts aren't exactly regionally specific (blowing the whistle and flying high, indeed). What New York needs is some new blood (sit down, Mims) to revitalize the spirit of the city's rap scene. Papoose and Saigon seemed to be that fresh blood, but Papoose is following Kay Slay into the dungeon and Saigon can't make the single that will get his album into our hands (a shame, since "C'mon Baby" is one of the best songs the city has seen in the past few years). No more southern retreads, no more hopping on the remix for the latest jam below the Mason-Dixon Line, no more made up beefs to supposedly incite interest (I'm looking in your direction, Papoose & Uncle Murda), no more jacking of Biggie and Jay-Z, no more chopped and screwed hooks. Perhaps Mysonne will finally put out something worthy of attention, but at the rate we're going, it's going to take an inspired new effort from Jay-Z or Shyne coming home to get me excited about NYC rap again. Until then, I'll just have to occupy myself with whatever Weezy freestyle or mega southern remix comes my way (I see you, Andre 3000, keep schoolin' these young'ns on how it's done). But in the meantime, in between time, peep Plies' The Real Testament or Boot Camp Clik's Casaulties Of War....I'm out.