30 Apr

The first rap verse I ever memorized was Rob Base’s “It Takes Two”, beginning at the portion of “I wanna rock right now”.  I probably recited that verse twice everyday and three times on Sunday. Hip Hop had become a major portion in my hard poetic style of creative writing, and I craved it. Only issue was, I was from the south. Womp Womp. I looked on T.V. and only saw the top half of the U.S. represented, and a few west coast artists sprinkled in here and there. RIP TUPAC. I’m not even sure who was actually getting radio spins as a hip hop artist, “from the south” besides OutKast, but the up-top Hip Hop scene definitely had a lead.  So, I’d sit in the two bedroom apartment in the hood that I came up in, imagining all of my favorite MC’s like Rob Base, Chubb Rock, and L.L. Cool walking around living some lavish rap life in the big city of NY. Don’t ask me why. I imagined the fast life, fast cars, huge buildings, and just a bunch of sh*t that I never saw physically. Sad. Kids from the south who grew up in the hood had imagination, but guess what? We barely EVER left the city, nonetheless the block we grew up on.



 I actually couldn’t tell if any credible rappers from the south were making noise in the early 90’s at all, because when looked at T.V. screens, all I saw was NY influenced rap. I was told Hip Hop started out at the park, but where I was from, our parks barely existed. If they did, there wasn’t much playground equipment in any of them to play on. Hey face it; I was raised in Raleigh N.C. C’mon, as a city we’re JUST now starting to grow. So, being able to relate to an artist on a, geographical level, wasn’t readily available right at the start of my love affair with hip hop. All that I had as a child was my imagination, because mainstream wouldn’t present to me that those with country flavored accented artists, who were just like my brothers and cousins. 


Early 90’s hip hop would soon be intercepted with dance music groups like Miami’s Tag Team “With Whoop There It Is” but damn, where was the “knowledge” in that?  Then, Outkast started to shake the south up a little bit. Three Six Mafia started creeping their way up the charts as well. I remember it like it was yesterday. The funky clothing, Cadillacs and country lyrics got my attention, and I started to release some “finally” frustration.  Miami’s ruthless Trick Daddy brought an incredibly different breed of music, with his rash and straight forward lyricism, drenching in “dirty south” attitude.  I don’t think the world was ready. He went platinum four times and never went on tour. Imagine that, but hey “Trick” was just like the crazy guy in my hood who didn’t care what anyone thought of him. He just displayed himself; corrupt and rude thinking and all. Master P led the largest movement dirty south history, and brought a bunch of dudes with him. Things started to look up for my region as far as being relevant in the rap game. As I looked around my community though, things were falling apart.  Junkies were gaining in number, confused children were turning into dope boys for security and comfort, and women began selling their bodies to get by and get high. Although this scenery was grey and lit with negativity, it STILL was my surroundings. I was a writer in the making. So, all I could paint with words, was what I saw every day. I used die hard situations to produce quality poems and spoken word, by simply observing. “Cell Therapy” by Goodie Mob confirmed that I wasn’t being fooled by my conscience. The same questions Cee-Lo asked in his verse ran through my mind daily.


Artists and groups like OutKast, Goodie Mob, Master P and Bun B lead the shift in the game. Then all dirty south hell broke loose. Juvenile hit the scene with his tales from one of the most crime infested areas of history in the south, New Orleans. T.I. arrived, crowning himself “The King of the South”, with ghetto influenced tracks that gave the world nothing but street politics; its ups and its downs. I said to myself when Young Jeezy started his “Snowman” movement, NOW THIS is what I see when I walk outside. To me it was never that these artists were glorifying negativity, but they were telling the world exactly “what it was”. The dope game, brick flip goals, and go-hard illegal hustler mentality was exactly what I saw. Was it the loveliest view? Hell no, but it’s what I observed, and through my observing I was able to pinpoint all of the wrong in my community. Seeing rappers like Juvenile tell such vivid stories about the most crucifying Wards, and getting praise and fan base from this told me that I too can be noticed by the world by showing them the things that are not right.


Do NOT discredit the creation of “dirty south” music. So many came from nothing, and a community that screamed at them daily “you’ll never be anything”.  A lot of us young hip hop craving fans wanted an artist in front of us that we could relate to. The kids above the Mason Dixon line weren’t the only ones worthy of seeing MC’s become great MC’s, who grew up only a block from their school. It’s often said by many of those who miss the NY influenced rap game, that “The Dirty South Music Has No Substance”. Well, how exactly is that concluded? Dirty south rappers had something that no other rapper owned at the time, to me, and that was the idea of “being themselves, having fun, adding personality to their flow, and rhythm”. It’s not easy to catch a beat and ride it with your own creative words, producing and individuality in your sound. Trust me, I tried it. Hell, if it’s that easy, then why can’t some of these rappers screaming “the south watered down music” defeat this “watered down mix of music” and take over?


Reasonable question right? Sure it is. What makes it watered down? Is it the fact that T.I. keeps his ATL accent prominent in his lyrics, and slowed his dialogue up for the listeners? Do you simply overlook the obvious skill it took Outkast to go into a studio, play around with jazz and old blues used instruments to create music that makes people feel good and reminisce on good times? Does Big KRIT’s heavy community affected political views seem any less correct because he has a Mississippi accent? I think not.




A song is a creation. It’s not the lyrics. It’s not the beat. It’s not even the “accent” of the rapper who creates the song. It’s a combination of things.  Dirty South rap is no easier than a New York rapper who could grace a track, with a beat that had no heavy “baseline”, and spit NY accented words across it. Keeping it a hundred, a lot of the NY verses I remembered in the 90’s could go on any beat, because their rhyming scheme had no “bounce” pattern to it. It was entertaining because of its lyrical content, but not because of the style it was delivered in, to me of course.  Now I can admit, there will always be those artists who I believe suck, from the south and the north.  There aren’t any reasons to name any of them though. They know who they are, but DO NOT discredit the “dirty south” rap genre. The south’s hip hop explosion and current lead even gave producers a whole new world of recognition. You BARELY heard of those behind the scenes of music, back in the 90’s. It was the rappers, their label owners, and that’s it. That’s what I remember. They have given a whole new meaning to “creation of songs”.  If you wanted to check producing credits, you had to buy the album. Maybe the influx of social networks has some contribution to this change as well. Today, the south has shown the rap world the actual personalities behind such heavy knocking beat creations; the Drummer Boys, the Sonny Digitals, etc. Why discredit the south? These rappers definitely switched up the game, but not for once believe that it doesn’t take skill to create the music they create. You can’t discredit them. Look at what they’ve done. Look at where they are.

No matter their sound.

 No matter how slow their speech is.

No matter how they dress.

No matter how they act.

You cannot disqualify a genre of music that has literally snatched the torch and ran laps around other regions for years; consecutively. Just stop it.

Let the south be great.



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