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RU - Changing of the guard

This past Saturday night I had a sobering realisation while working my way through a six-pack of Budějovický Budvar cans with Boldy James’ My 1st Chemistry Set album on repeat – Queensbridge no longer has anti-social rap on lock. Some of the credit has to go to Alchemist of course, who produced the entire project while drawing from the lessons learned after years as the unofficial third member of Mobb Deep. But it takes more than hard beats to capture that Thun Language sound – full credit due to Detroit-native Boldy for injecting the right measure of nonchalant menace and zero-fux-given aura into his performance. Coming off as a mixture of the best qualities of Prodigy, Big Noyd and MC Eiht, Boldy doesn’t overextend himself by any means, yet commands the listeners attention while never sounding overly eager to please.

As much as I appreciate having some new rap that doesn’t suck to listen to, the fact that it’s based in the mean streets of the D is fairly disconcerting to a seasoned East-Coast Elitist such as myself. Not to say that I didn’t appreciate the classic late ’80s and early ’90s contributions from the West Coast as much as anybody else, but no one did threatening rap as well as the likes of the Wu-Tang, M.O.P., Mobb Deep, Kool G Rap and Biggie. Unfortunately, the New York of 2013 has evolved into a melting-pot of hypebeasting streetwear kids who care more about getting a Stussy deal than breaking a bar stool over the head of some random herb in a bar. For shame.

Less trendy cities such as Detroit, however, are still breeding grounds for regular folk who still consider the concept of “Rock you in your face, stab your brain with your nose bone” to be a plausible option at all times. Promising to splatter “taco meat on your driver’s seat” and “split your lama bean”, rapper dudes such as Boldy are sticking to the basics of cars, bitches and money, which is really what all good rap music is about anyway. You need not be burdened with raps about feelings or Joe Familiar missing the bus for work anecdotes with this brand of Zero Fux Given rap singing.

Meanwhile, only the old guard of New York hard heads are still making proper violent music, as the younger generation is far too sensible and business-minded to be concerning themselves with actual threatening behaviour, which in turn results in live hip-hop shows completely lacking the danger of getting robbed in the parking lot or having your girl’s door-knockers snatched-up, which is good in same ways and terrible in others. Flatbush Zombies have the wastoids covered, while A$AP Mob and Pro Era are basically rapping fashionistas, all things considered. Being the mean-spirited curmudgeon that I am, does this mean that only New Jersey, Detroit and Chicago will be providing the type of music I appreciate from now on?

Keep up with Robbie’s weekly ‘No Country for Old (Rap) Men’ here.