Introducing POP IN TAPE: HIP-HOP IN THE 215

BY MICHAEL FICHMAN It’s not easy for a scene to stay relevant in the era of the 24-hour news cycle and the iPod attention span. Trends eat their tails so fast these days. Underground rap went from “knowledge equality” to rapping about rapping and bitching about shiny suit syndrome. It faded into obscurity. Furthermore, bloggers and barflies want to be the first to dig up a fad and then be the first to put it down as plebian and overwrought. Rick Ross rose and fell before summer 2006 had hit August. Three trend cycles of bad haircuts rose and fell between Hustlin and the LP. While New York rolls condos over the scenes of Biggie verses, club culture USA looks to Philadelphia as a source of inspiration. Will ground-zero Philly eat it’s tail?

Truth be told, Philly may not be big enough to keep doing the way it has been. When it comes to making tastes it’s more of a focus group than a full-on laboratory. While less pretentious and more forgiving than that city up north, the low volume of hardcore club kids belies Philly’s importance as the gateway to New York. Diplo, Plastic Little and Spank Rock came through both on the strength of their skills and what was perceived as a romantic steeping in real Son of Sam-era grit- the same grit that spawned Larry Levan, Kool Herc and the downtown scene. Yes, people kill each other where I buy my 12 inches.

I DJ’d in Manhattan in December with the dearly departed Disco D (RIP), and one in three people I spoke to picked my brains about Philly (no 6th borough). They were real New Yorkers, sick of Masters-educated PBR drinkers and iPod DJs. I could tell they thought Philly’s streets might be paved with gold and burnt-out Isuzu jeeps. How can this be when our fair city’s flagship nights draw a fraction of what they would in New York? This isn’t to say Paradise at Key West isn’t the pinnacle of throwback sleaze and coke-mirror styling, it is. This isn’t to say Broadzilla doesn’t pack it out in a debaucherous you-don’t-look-twenty-one UArts-stylee, it does. I’m not saying we aren’t holding down our own, but I don’t get the feeling I’m in 1980s Manchester. Can it be what they think it is or does the internet really make us look ten pounds heavier than we really are?

Call it the Gully-Status Bubble. I don’t think Philly does badly for itself, and I would surely argue that we fucking smash New York when it comes to realness. But we need to stay on the horse people. New York got burned when they got complacent and Atlanta, Philly and Baltimore up and took their shit, leaving them with ten dollar burritos in the LES and wistful remenisces. The moment we start taking ourselves seriously is the moment it’s over. Just before that moment, you’ll probably notice everybody around you is white and wearing those fashionable sneakers that aren’t for actual athletics. So stay up on your wet game, keep the vinyl stores in business and don’t look back, somebody might be gaining on you.

Now, for the PLAYS OF THE WEEK:

Thursday night goes off the deep end this week with old standards and a new
one-time night:
Paradise Classics at
Key West (Thursday night @ Juniper & Locust)
Broadzilla at Sal’s (12th
and Walnut)
WestWax presents Clark Park Riot
at the Mill Creek Tavern (42nd and Chester)- WestWax is a
collective of ten West Philly DJs dedicated to rockin’ West Philly parties
(full disclosure- I’m one of them, but I’m in Cali this week so it’s almost
ethical to boost it).

DJ Whoo Kid & Peedi Crakk-
This track is featured on the new Benja
Styles/Freeway tape and December’s Peedi Crakk tape. Warning, Wu-related
brilliance contained therein.

– Stretch of Stretch and Bobbito fame is posting mp3s of all his
old DATs from the days when KCR was the place to be. Wanna hear Nas in 93
or old tapes of Mr. Magic and Rap Attack? This is the spot.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fich is the first ordained rabbi in the musical church of Robot James Brown. He owns a lot of records and people pay him to play them. He writes for “>Just Sayin’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *