While the narrative for the last decade has painted The Big Apple as having fallen off musically, you can’t deny the city’s energy. One outlet has taken the time to catalog the tunes that shaped the town.
This week the staff at Vulture has seemingly put their neck on the chopping block in an effort to shine some limelight on New York City’s Rap scene. The site has just released a “Top 100 Songs That Define New York Rap” list. Before they did the formal reveal they gave readers some context regarding how they selected the music and the approach.
“To decide the “best” of New York rap would only tell half the story — an uneven one — so instead, we invited a team of writers to rank a new type of local canon: 100 songs that capture a bigger picture of the sound of the city. Old heads will tell you that New York rap is a distinct sound rooted in the thunder-and-lightning interplay between kick and snare drums in an East Coast boom-bap track, but really, it’s an attitude, a way to be” the press release read.
As with any list of this nature, this effort wasn’t perfect. While generally all the selections have a place on this lineup, the rankings have left many shooting Vulture the proverbial side-eye. Cracking the top ten is Roxanne Shanté’s “Roxanne’s Revenge” which definitely is commendable but when’s the last time you played the track? Also in the final group is Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N***a”; definitely a New York classic but is it top ten of all time material? The jury is still out.
Thankfully the top five is rounded out a bit better with Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”, Nas’ “N.Y. State of Mind” and B.I.G.’s “Juicy” at 5,4 and 3 respectively. Top 2 is “The Message” which feels more like a sentimental placement and coming in the number one slot is Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones, Pt. II”.
You can peep the list in full here. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Photo: Bernard Smalls