It was August 3rd 1995. If you google that day in history, very little made world news. However to an underground culture birthed in 1973, that day would rock the culture to it’s core. (Or as some Hip Hop romanticist tend to say…The Day Hip Hop Died) If you tell that to a southerner in these United States, you would think that you’d be asking for a good slap..but no..they smile because they’re confident in what they know to be true. As the East Coast and West coast beef sparked, the south was waiting in the wing ready for the biggest upstage. On that particular day, Hip Hop didn’t die..It just moved to the south and has had a very long stay. As the words rolled from Andre’ Benjamin’s mouth at the 1995 Source Awards,”The South Got Som’n To Say”, thus sparked a rally cry from years of dismissal from the rest of the nation as if to say, “This is it! The time is now! and WE don’t get a bigger platform than this.” Suppose Andre Three Stacks didn’t say anything and just humbly grabbed his award and left the stage? The world may not have ever known of the jewels below the Mason-Dixon line. What IS known for sure is the SouthernPlayalistic duo opened the floodgates for a number of southern rappers to be heard and taken seriously. The South punched the pedal and haven’t let up since.
Fast forward to Nov 5 2015. Radio One of Columbus opened it’s doors to a few well known urban bloggers (ahem) and we were able to chop it up with some of today’s heavy hitters of the south that came thru the 614, and we went UP on a Thursday. Big K.R.I.T. of Mississippi, also Migos and ScottyATL from Atlanta spoke with me and talked about what gives the south it’s pivot in today’s urban music. When I asked Big K.R.I.T. how he and rappers like Outkast, David Banner and others from the south were able to balance “hood” music while remaining conscious, he responded, “Hip Hop music is life, and my music is a balance of the life I lived. I wouldn’t say my music is “hood” per-se I would say my music is based on my experiences. It’s like storytelling. If the storyteller can make the story believable, then that’s going to raise all kinds of relatable emotions to the listener. If you have enough people to listen to your story, now you’ve got a movement and that’s what happened in the south.” I also asked K.R.I.T. about the strong support rappers can get from their own city or state without ever having to leave their state. He replied “Man, southern people are just humble and appreciative bruh, that their voice can be heard. But your theory is good for a rapper of the 90’s or 2000’s because we didn’t have social media back then, and necessity is the mother of invention so we HAD to build our own labels from scratch and go hand to hand, trunk to trunk because no one would give us the time or day to hear where we came from. So the southern rap superstar back then could do a show with 5 or so thousand people, but you could run into him at a car wash selling his music out of the trunk thus building community relationships. But that doesn’t work everywhere, but the south has a rich family mentality. Now in 2015, your theory may not be as accurate because it’s a lot harder now. These days, you don’t have to leave your bedroom to release music so now music is coming from everywhere. The south also gets flack because we release music rapidly. But you also have to think, from a show business aspect, we’ve always been two steps behind states like California and New York, so we’ve never had an outlet for our art. And also people down south don’t mind putting in the hard work it takes to be successful which comes from years of being overlooked. If there is one thing I want people to know about the south is, just because we are country does not mean we’re not intelligent. We know how to hustle. You have some of the sharpest business people you’d ever want to meet in the south.”
After K.R.I.T. is off to do his show, Scotty ATL came in right behind him and I was only able to catch one question with the rapper. When asked are today’s rappers from the south more influenced by veteran southern rappers or old school rappers from other coasts he answered, “Kids are a reflection of their parents, so whatever your parents listen to, that can also get inside of you. My mom listened to a lot of Tupac so that’s where a lot of my influence comes from. Also Biggie was a great influence. But influence can only go so far, when it’s all said and done you still have to tell YOUR story in a way that only you can tell it.” People from the south have a very good understanding on how to take you through a journey and a lot of people relate to that. Sometimes it’s our slang, our twang or our downright hospitality but it rubs off on people in a good way.
As the night progresses, everyones getting nervous because Migos is running behind and they may be a no show at the radio station. But before we can call our chickens in, a group of Walnut Ridge high schoolers coo and pant in amazement as these superstars enter the building.
The Atlanta based group Migos is from the contemporary sub-genre in Hip Hop called Trap Music. Trap Music was birthed through Crunk Music credited by Atlanta’s world famous producer Lil Jon which was the hyped movement that followed The Dungeon Family’s reign. Trap Music was a specific sound catered to southern drug dealers given fame by T.I. and Young Jeezy of Boyz N Da Hood. Once Jeezy made his mark, the movement spread like wildfire. I asked Quavo and Takeoff, if they felt their music promotes radical behavior amongst today’s youth they said. “We just gonna keep making this money and give the people what they want.” said Takeoff “We’re growing everyday. We came in this business not knowing what to expect, but as we kept grinding, we started seeing our music being accepted by all sorts of people.” I asked if they thought the song Hannah Montana was the reason for their success. Quavo said “When you make a song, you never know how it’s gonna be received, but when you make a hit, it a feeling you get, like, Yeah this is the one.” I lastly asked “Are you afraid of getting pigeon-holed into one-type of music? Takeoff replies “We can’t get pigeon-holed as long as we stay true to the music we put out. And we have a good team that keeps it one hundred with us at all times (100=total honesty at all cost)
Although Houston Texas is responsible for the Geto Boyz Grip It On That Other Level, and is the predecessor of the south’s independent label movement, it was Outkast’s Southernplayalistic that really put the south on the map and that gravy train is still moving. We don’t know what’s in that Gumbo down there, but the world has sat down on the porch swing, grabbed a sweet tea, and doesn’t look like it’s getting up any time soon. Uptown Weekly would like to thank Radio One’s Kristi Hayes and Dommy Styles for this opportunity.