The 8th installment of a (kinda) weekly drop on EVRYDY called “7 Tracks You Should Know By…” Similar to the #SilasSundays Series, this self-explanatory playlist will highlight certain verses from established artists that may have been overlooked or forgotten over the years. The subject of this week’s post is the New York-based Hip-Hop collective, Beast Coast.
New York, the birthplace of Hip-Hop, has a very colorful and storied history. In the 80s and 90s, the list of influential artists (Nas, JAY Z, Kool G Rap, etc.), labels (Bad Boy, Boogie Down Productions, Duck Down, etc.) and crews (Wu-Tang Clan, The Native Tounges, Ruff Ryders, etc.) had a tremendous impact in shaping the formation of this, at the time, fledgling genre. The grimy, raw, and gritty sound of Boom Bap perfectly encapsulated the overall essence of street life throughout the 5 Boroughs. Vivid storytelling about harrowing experiences detailed the everyday existence to an outside world that didn’t readily understand. Often viewed as glorifying a violent culture by the mainstream at the time, East Coast Hip-Hop, specifically in NYC, was meant to portray the environment by honest means through a unique medium. Messages of positivity and advice foreboding against mistakes a young youth may make in a similar circumstance were present to active listeners.
At the turn of the Century, the New York Hip-Hop scene had successfully and organically infiltrated the mainstream. With the continued excellence of premier Emcees – most notably Nas and JAY Z – and the rise of powerhouse groups such as Dipset, G-Unit, and The Inc., East Coast Hip-Hop solidified their position again atop the game in the early to mid-2000s. Bona fide smash hits including “Hey Ma,” “Lean Back,” and “In Da Club” may be considered played out in 2017, but they were major omnipresent soundtracks, nationally and globally. Then, somewhere around 2007-2008, like all good things, the Golden Era of New York Hip-Hop dissipated, seemingly overnight. An evolution swept over the genre that saw the emergence of Backpack and Alternative Rap artists (e.g. Lupe, Kid Cudi, Drake). The beatsmith in a pink Polo was triumphant in a head-to-head battle against the man in a bulletproof vest, financially and sonically. In my opinion, the retail “beef” between Kanye West and 50 Cent definitively closed that chapter on Gangsta Rap from NYC being popular in the mainstream.
That doesn’t mean that more chapters can be written.
A period of stagnation from the NY scene soon followed the Graduation vs. Curtis match-up, which, in turn, created opportunities for several prominent regions to make an appearance or return to Hip-Hop. Midwest, West Coast, and the Dirty South all left their own unique marks on the game, further innovating the sound and expanding the music to the masses. It was a breath of fresh air. But in 2011, the resurgence of high-quality Hip-Hop came roaring back with a vengeance; a large, abstract figure by the name of the Beast Coast.
Initial members of this collective include the A$AP Mob (Rocky, Ferg, Twelvy, Nast, Ant, RIP YAMS), Pro Era (Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly, Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, RIP STEEZ), Flatbush Zombies (Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick Arc Elliot), The Underachievers (Issa Gold and AKTHESAVIOR) among many, many, many affiliates.
The movement has plenty of old attributes from the first Golden Age of New York Hip-Hop: Tough and menacing Boom Bap production, aggressive and wordy lyricism, and representative pride for each particular Borough they hail from. But, these artists have taken the sound to a whole other experimental level. Within the Beast Coast collective, varying styles of experimentation are encouraged, leading to completely novel sound projects like At Long Live A$AP, for example. The crew of young artists from NYC and their affiliates throughout the state show no signs of slowing down momentum in 2017.
If you’re unfamiliar with some of the more notable tracks from the Beast Coast clique, I highly recommend that you start with these 7 songs provided here. It would be impossible for someone to have all the best tracks from such an enormous and sizable collective. Therefore, more playlist series devoted to the Beast Coast will be made during the subsequent weeks. I don’t know how many volumes there will be for this series but expect at least 3 more editions.
When you’re done with this, listen to the previous installments of the 7 Tracks You Should Know By…series, below: