Filed under: Announcements,Face Off,Features,Nas Is A Douche,Not Your Average,The Unkut Opinion,Vote Or Die
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Illustration by Tony Bones
It ain’t no mystery that New York has been the subject of a wide variety of rap dedications, being the birthplace of hip-hop and whatnot. But which Rotten Apple dedication deserves to be top of the heap? After selecting thirteen tracks that reference NY in the title, the next step was to run my selections by three esteemed residents of Gotham to get their opinions on which cuts win and those that don’t make the grade. Finally, the final six finalists will then be put to vote.
Three Times Dope:
Tony Bones – Graphic Designer and MC, currently located in Harlem.
Dallas Penn – Evil Genius and Internets Celebrity, Planet Brooklyn.
eskay – The Greatest Blogger Alive, Yonkers.
2Face - ‘NYC’
T: Overall pleasant, but you could pretty much replace NY with any city.
D: Track was dope too, but it doesn’t rank at the top musically or lyrically
E: Cool track, but this and the word “anthem” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence.
Kool G Rap - ‘Streets Of New York’
T: Pure quality. Paints a vivid picture of NYC at that time. (I went to High School with the ‘wife w/ the knife’ in the video).
E: Possibly the greatest New York anthem of all time. Lyrically and musically on point, timeless, and dirty in every sense of the word.
D: On a musical level it’s an amazing track, the drums are sharp along with the organ and piano riffs. When G Rap rhymes slow enough for us to understand he creates one of the greatest lyrical masterpieces on par with Melle Mel‘s ‘The Message’. G Rap describes all the heroism and depravity inside the NYC ‘hoods with equal aplomb. This is unquestionably NYC’s rap anthem. Nas, Big Pun, Mobb Deep, Wu Tang, Joell Ortiz are all outgrowths from G Rap.
M.O.P. - ‘New York Salute’
T: Lovely stuff. Nuff said.
D: MOP made a hardcore lullaby with this joint.
E: I think Brooklyn when I hear this, the rest of New York, not so much. But that goes for damn near every Mash Out track. It’s dope but, not enough energy to be called an “anthem”.
Nas - ‘NY State of Mind’
T: Classic. Captured that mindset honestly and beautifully. *Sniffle-sniffle*
D: A legendary song with mad quotables but it doesn’t carry the universal NY anthem status. When Nas gives up his NY specific references he can’t be stopped.
E: The quintessential New York rap song. I listen to this and I smell nothing but subway system and permanent marker.
Nas - ‘NY State of Mind 2′
T: This is good stuff. Stands up well next to the original. Kudos Nas.
D: 2nd place, but what an incredible track from the lil homey.
E: This shit is dope, and to be honest, he paints more of a picture of the city on this than he did on the original, but I’ll still take the original.
Nas - ‘Talk Of New York’
T: That’s 3 NY tracks – all quality. This one in particular feels like 125th at night in ’92.
D: Nas has raised the stakes again by being the best rapper of all time. Empire, Rooftop, Skate Key, USA. That is NYC that only an OG can recall. This could be the new millennium New York City anthem.
E: Another damn near perfect joint from the Little Homey. That beat sounds like you just hopped off the train at Broadway Junction and 5 niggas are following you.
In other words, it’s a problem.
Rakim - ‘New York (Ya Out There)’
T: I remember being confused by how dope this was. It was some outer-space shit. Who else put things like that?
D: Sounds like filler musically. The God MC has never been accused of being generic, but this song is generic and cliche (old heads gasp at my review).
E: Impeccable rhymes from the God and impeccable sample selection. He touched on just about everything that makes New York New York, like only he could.
AZ feat. Ghostface & Raekwon - ‘New York
(Memphis Sessions Remix)‘
T: Solid performances by all, but pretty unremarkable.
D: This joint was dope. It’s sitting in third place solid.
E: Superb lyrical performances all around, but musically it’s more “mint julep on the porch” than “boiled hot dog on the corner”. The original would probably fare better in this showdown.
Large Pro - ‘NY At Night’
T: Me likey! Grown-man shit.
D: Certainly reminiscent of a night in NY, but not every night.
E: Reminds me of driving down the West Side Highway in the rain. At night of course.
Royal Flush - ‘Rotten Apple’
T: NG. NFG. Sounds like a nasdeep impression.
D: Smooth as silk, that Bob James sample underneath everything is easy listening NYC. I’m crossing the Queensboro Bridge peeping the city lights at night. Nice track. NYC anthem B-sides status.
E: This is by no means wack, but is by no means New York anthem status. The Nas sample does a lot of the heavy lifting for Flush if you know what I mean.
Sadat X - ‘Back To New York’
T: Besides a horrid chorus, Sadat is at his best (a bit of ‘tough-love’ in there as well).
D: Real and contemplative, but it ain’t the knock that New York needs to come back like crack.
E: Sadat is speaking truth on this, but this ain’t it.
Muggs feat. Call O Da Wild - ‘New York’s Undercover’
T: My all-time favorite NY tribute. Goosebumps every time I hear it.
D: Yeah, I liked this joint. The beat had some thunder in it. Unfortunately I just re-listened to G Raps joint again. So its gonna be hard for someone other than maybe Nas to get a word in my brain. Sorry fella.
E: I wasn’t familiar with this track, but this shit goes hard. Can’t go wrong with Muggs on the boards. Nonetheless, this would have a hard time standing up against some of the other cuts on this list.
P Bros - ‘NY Fanfare (Outro)’
T: I challenge anyone to keep from making the ugly-face. I wish it was 10 minutes longer.
D: P-Bros got the right idea with the horn intro because NYC needs to be heralded like majesty and shit. I’m still not hearing that knock though.
E: Nice cut. This is Canyon of Champions theme music right here.
Not Included: Busta‘s ‘NY Shit’, since I would really prefer never to have to hear that song ever again (blame Swizz). Juganot‘s ‘En Why Cee’ with Joell and Uncle Murda, just because dude tried to sue Breeze Brewin’ and them for using their own group name. As for the Ja Rule shit with Jadakiss and Fat Joe….no.
The Finalists: Looks like Rapper Nas has the NY anthem game in a fuckin’ headlock, but can his two biggest influences pip him at the post? Results announced next Monday.
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