observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Today’s post is something that I would love to someday write a book about. That’s right I want to be Jeff Chang or Brian Coleman when I grow up. The brother, Ethan Brown, who is covering the Inc. trial for allhiphop just dropped his book ‘Queens Reigns Supreme’ that deals with this topic.

Anyway, the idea is the mythical places in Hip-Hop. Where you are from is so important in Hip-Hop that various places have taken on legendary status. What are run down projects, trailer parks or washed out middle class suburbs have become our modern day Troy, Rome, Selma, Athens, Appomattox, and Bay of Pigs.

I had on a Decatur T-Shirt that my people at Elemental hooked me up with. And my wife asked ‘why in the world do you have a Decatur shirt on?’ Her cousins are from Atlanta so she knew Decatur from them, but she could not figure out how that small town became relevant to me. And that got me thinking…

I know Decatur basically from Outkast. And furthermore Outkast has turned Atlanta, the SWATS, College Park, and Decatur into mythical places where heroes are made. Similar to how Mobb Deep has made Queensbridge Projects much more than the largest Housing project in the city. Not a place where my Queens born wife avoided like the plague. But a huge mental and physical obstacle course where boys become men. What is interesting is that if you ever visited the QB I am sure you would be roundly unimpressed.

There is no better example of this than what Jay Z, Buckshot, Jeru, and of course Biggie have done to Brooklyn. You ain’t missing much if you never visit Marcy. I live on Big’s block and there are more strollers than dice games (at least days).

The list can go on and on. Compton, East Oakland, Houston, the 5th Ward, Chicago, 8 Mile, The ‘D’, Memphis (hyped up by the MTV machine for ‘Hustle and Flow.’ Three 6 Mafia is still wack), Brentwood, Long Island, Amityville, Long Beach Hollis, and how can I forget Shao-Lin.

There is nothing magical about Staten Island, or is there? On the surface these places are no special than any other piece of land. But their residents do make them special. No matter how cynical I want to be, there was something special going in the South Bronx in the 70’s. And as Jeff Chang brilliantly documents in ‘Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop’ those special events were not taking place anywhere else. The Bronx is special. The birth of Hip-Hop was not a random event. The emergence of Wu Tang could not have happened in Princeton. There must be a reason why L.A. can produce NWA, The Pharcyde, Dilated, and The Liks.

Later, I will expound on this and build on the gems my man Bill Keyes dropped on me 5 years ago about how this theory connects to the Bible, Star Wars and the whole Judeo Christian tradition.


In other news

Don’t say the digital big mouth did not tell you. iTunes leads the way. In 10 years the CD will go the way pf the cassette.

Check out this interview with my man One-9. He is a fantastic filmmaker who conceived and edited the Unspoken Heard video for ‘Truly Unique.’ A truly talented brother.


Anonymous Stephanie said...

Hey Wes, what's up? It's Steph Elder. The whole notion of place and space in hip hop is something that I thought (and wrote) a lot about back when I was a grad. student. I also have a book idea that deals with this idea, but with a bit of a twist, we should definitely speak, and possibly make it a collaborative effort. You can hit me at: selder421@yahoo.com Congrats on the crawling, he'll be taking steps in no time.

November 28, 2005 11:15 AM


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