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

Friday, February 29, 2008

The death of Queens

Today in stories from the old school we shall discuss the death of Queens Hip-Hop from 1986-1993.
As you all know I hail from the BX but call Brooklyn home. Being from the X (as my man G calls it) and being a 70’s baby I was brought up during the legendary Queensbridge/South Bronx, BDP/Juice Crew, KRS-ONE/MC Shan, Red Alert/Marley Marl battle. Now kids this was a real battle not a silly or deadly beef like Biggie/2Pac or Fiddy vs. Joey Cridack. This beef was legitimate.
A war waged over the fact that Mr. Magic refused to play ‘South Bronx’ on his radio show.

Back in the days, I wrote ‘south bronx’
The juice crew got stomped, lick two shots
really it was Magic's fault
Always wanna diss somebody, he got put to a halt
It's wack, when a sucker dj babbles on
Soupin up mc's to battle on song
‘Ruff, Ruff’ from Sex and Violence

Ok, this is as trifling as the 50 Beef or old Nas/Jay Z beef but indulge me.

The reality is that the whooping that KRS put on the juice Crew and vis a vis Queens essentially shit Queens Hip-Hop down until Nas resurrected it in 1993 with the 1st single from Illmatic.
The beef was waged on wax and radio before MTV, before Blogger, before the internets, before camera phones. It allowed the conflict to be played in a pure somewhat objective arena. And the victory was as decisive as you can get. Shan lost on all cards and essentially limped away in shame until he bounced back with Snow (for those who don’t remember Snow was essentially a Toronto white cat who hung around a lot of West Indians and became the dancehall version of Robert Winkle aka Vanilla Ice. Not much of a creative bounce back but the checks were probably thick).

Moreover, in that seven year span Queens which had produced Salt N Pepa, Kid N Play and the Herbie Azor era. As well RUN DMC and LL Cool J went quiet. No significant cultural contribution, no one hit wonders, not much of anything. Meanwhile KRS cemented his legendary status and rose to the top of the Hip-Hop pantheon.
It was not until Nas and Mobb Deep resurrected Queensbridge specifically was Shan allowed to remove the mark of shame from his and his borough’s chest.

Unfortunately for the Bronx after KRS the only other Hip-Hop superhero we produced was Bug Pun.
The Bronx is in a slump that has far outlasted the Queens dry period.
In the interim Long Island along with Queens established itself as the creative fountain of New York
Jay, Mos, and Kweli rejuvenated what Kane started – we all know that story
Via the Wu even the forgotten borough of Staten Island held the crown

The moral of the story is … be glad you didn’t rep for Queens in the early 90’s.

Swift Rock…out

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