Death of A Legend: The New York MC


“The melody that I’m styling, smooth as a violin, rough enough to break New York from Long Island”. The aforementioned words are the lyrical elocution pontificated by the legendary and immortal Rakim Allah (a.k.a William Griffin) of Wyndanch, N.Y. The iconic, urban legend, solidified his place inside the hallowed halls of Hip Hop history in the summer of 1986, with the release of his debut hit single entitled “Eric B Is President” with “My Melody” on the B-Side of the vinyl LP. I was 13 years of age back then and I remember the summer having a nostalgic buzz as it related to Hip Hop music. Groups like Whodini, Boogie Down Productions, Run DMC and solo acts like MC Shan and Big Daddy Kane, all but cemented New York as the foundational ground floor for the Hip Hop music genre. New York was the birthplace of Gazelle Glasses, Kangol Hats, Stripe Lee Jeans, Shell-Toe Adidas and of course the iconic big gold chains. There was a street vernacular spoken that became a dialect worthy of a Rosetta Stone tutorial. New York was the central hub in the birthing of a revolutionary culture. We have seen the music genre’s evolutionary, cartographical migration that has created innovative depth to its organic, yet, complex nature; however, it’s rooted existence is cored in the borough of the Bronx. We all know of Nas, Notorious B.I.G and Jay-Z and their contributions in elevating the New York MC to heightened levels of both fame and financial success. All of the of the previous listed started off in the non-commercialized music sector of the Hip Hop genre called the underground. It was here where they would sharpen and hone their skills, all while carving out their niche on the ladder of artistic success. Their groundbreaking and innovative dissertation over gritty music ensembles, were reflective of the New York temperament. We saw a group like the Wu Tang Clan regenerate the New York MC temperament, by capturing one voice in the form of a collaborated effort of several solo worthy artists that were destined for individual stardom. This would become both the apex and the fall of the great New York MC, leaving behind a mere scattering of several artist like Jada Kiss and Fabolous who would continue to resonate that New York feel in the bloodlines of their music. But what happened to the New York MC and the culture that was once so vibrant and intoxicating? Where are the artist who reflected the hustle and bustle of the New York lifestyle much like our subway systems and yellow cabs do? There are only a few precocious wordsmiths like Torae and Reks that are carrying the New York MC banner; but the legendary sound that was once associated with NY Hip Hop the same way Motown was to Detroit, has slowly been phased out. Maybe it was the saturation of sequin suits, fashion bravado and gimmick concepts that lead to its ultimate demise. I do, however, believe that the New York MC will resurrect and that its next innovator, much like Rakim Allah, will be a “Microphone Fiend” whose sole mission is to revitalize The New York MC and galvanize the Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop is still alive. #any MC that disagrees with me wave your arm

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