In the midst of all the political noise going on around the country, and in addition to the various accounts of unjustified state violence against ethnic and racial minorities during the month of July, I have been frantically searching for something to give me solace. Where I ended up was a place of nostalgia, of my childhood listening to classic tracks by some of my favorite artists, and music groups like State Property, Beanie Sigel, Oschino, Freeway, Young Gunz, Cassidy, Major Figgas, Gillie Da Kid, Dutch, Spade, & The Roots.
In my zone of comfort, I realized that the lyricism of artists from Philadelphia is so great that Philly rappers as a collective are far better than any collective of artists from any other major hip-hop city like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. In my obviously biased analysis of the greatness that Philadelphia has produced over the years I found that I was justified in my reasoning, and here are 5 reasons why…
Schoolly D, hailing from West Philadelphia, was a prominent figure on the Philadelphia rap scene in the late 1980’s and is credited for being the originator of Gangsta Rap. Debuting in 1985, it is evident that Schoolly D’s impression on music has stuck with us for over 30 years; it could be argued that without Schoolly D a lot of rappers today would not be relevant.
Following the Gangsta Rap blueprint set by Schoolly D, in the early 2000’s with insurmountable amounts of lyricism, genuity, and pure talent, State Property raised the bar when it came to giving voices to black men from low-income urban neighborhoods, entrepreneurship, and having a monopoly over a culture. With the combined lyricism of rappers Beanie Sigel and Oschino with the flows of Peedi Crack and Freeway in addition to the duo Chris and Neef (Young Gunz) there is literally no other camp of artists in the history of hip-hop who could stand up to the State Property crew. It is my personal belief that the priceless jewels given to listeners by the artists in State Property deserve/require extensive scholarly study to decipher and fully understand the context and passion behind their songs.
If I had not been a lover of classic hip-hop, jazz, neo-soul, and the sound of live instrumentation with super dope rhymes sprinkled on top I would have never picked up aRoots album in my life and subsequently wouldn’t be aware of poet and Philadelphia native Ursula Rucker. Being featured on multiple tracks and at least 2 Roots albums, Ursula Rucker is an internationally renowned artist who has a mural dedicated to her in the city of Philadelphia on 1531 Ridge Avenue.
Since the mid to late 2000’s Philadelphia in my opinion has had one of the most solid platforms for local and independent artists. The 2 Raw For The Streets and Headshot DVD series’ had created such a following during the era that many artists had been able to acquire deals with major and independent labels. Arguably the two currently most well known rappers from the era, Meek Mill and Quilly Millz once had an intense rap beef that lasted at least 2 mixtapes each and essentially split the city in half.
5. The Only Will We Acknowledge…
Despite the likeness of colonial invader William Penn being situated atop the Philadelphia City Hall building I am not shy to denounce him nor his name to be replaced by Will Smith as the most notable figure in the history of this city. From the many life lessons Will taught the millennial generation as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air plus having made the all time greatest summer fun track to ever be recorded it’s safe to say that Will Smith is much more likable, respectable, and relatable than a colonial crazed man who couldn’t help but name the land he stole after himself.