Down South Lyricism
One of the most widely held and patently false hip-hop dichotomies is that east coast rappers are lyricists -- their rhymes oozing with metaphor, pathos and political chagrin -- while Southern rappers are merely stylists -- manipulating flow, form and voice to match their party-driven beats. This may make sense with a peripheral glance. The dirty south is, after all, the home of subgenres crunk, bass and snap, while New York is perhaps best known for poets such as Nas, Rakim and KRS-One. But in terms of actual content, the south stands toe-to-toe with any region. The Geto Boy's Scarface captures confusion, paranoia and raw aggression better than any rapper alive (or dead for that matter). Mississippi's David Banner, in his more reflective moments, delves into the deadening pathology of racism. And the members of Goodie Mob and Outkast capture the nuances of everyday life, injecting their narratives with visions of hope and resilience. Even more pop-hop artists such as Juvenile and T.I. have their moments. Take Juve's "Get Your Hustle On," an angry, defiant song about New Orleans post-Katrina that manages to express politically fueled rage without sounding overtly pedantic or stiff. Of course, these are only a few examples, but they reveal an overlooked segment of southern hip-hop.