Back in the day, New York City 1995…”
One of my favorite golden era hip hop albums is Mobb Deeps The Infamous. This classic album portrays the struggles and harsh realities of ghetto life to perfection. We did a piece back in ’09 announcing Kevin Casey’s Live From New York, I wanted to repost it because it represents what the verse in this amazing mash-up means to me, enjoy.
Man look at these suckers. I ain’t no rapper, I’m a hustler. It just so happens I know how to rap.”
In the beginning Hip Hop was about b-boying, djing, graffiti and emceeing. The drug game of the late 1980’s changed the ghetto so it was only natural that it would change the music as well. Additionally, Hip Hop itself became quite profitable and in turn created an opportunity for a lot of trapped young artists to leave a life of crime, danger and limits. I’ve come to realize that people perform at the highest level when their backs are against the wall. The extreme conditions and adversity that came from living in the hood was transferred into a musical energy and realness that was able to touch and reach an entire world. It was survival of the fittest and to be an emcee in the 90s you had to hold your own, no exceptions.
You see me all my life I had to sell drugs, while you grew up with straight nerds, I grew up with thugs.â€
Why the brief history? Well, if you want to appreciate New York City’s mid to late 90s Hip Hop you’ll have to realize that these guys aren’t just talking loud and being aggressive for no reason, they’re representing an attitude one needed to have in order to survive and stay sane in the concrete jungle that was NYC in the 90s. Look at it this way, you don’t go into a battlefield to put your gun down, read a book, have some tea and talk about where you want to be next summer. You’re going to be screaming and hollering, cold, alert and focused at all costs; you’re going to be aggressive and you’re going to be challenging that next man if he’s trying to take you out. Like I said, it was a concrete jungle and survival of the fittest was the type of mentality that applied, â€œonly the strong survive.
That was the mindset in NYC because prior, and even during Giuliani, that was the reality. I’m not praising it or saying it was correct but if you want to appreciate the music for what it is without having actually experienced that lifestyle, then you have to listen with some perspective. So when you hear lyrics that sound somewhat extreme, violent, and brutal, understand that it is just the top layer and the language only serves to represent issues that went much deeper than the words being used to represent them. Lastly, the only way to escape an extreme circumstance sometimes is to develop an extreme type of mentality…