Monday, November 15, 2004

Why Baltimore Is The New South

OK, not really (although Scott Seward's Why Baltimore House Music Is The New Dylan is a good read in spite of all the batshit theorizing and forced parallels), but I had a pet theory for a while that maybe the only way Baltimore would blow up and get respect in hip hop was if it cultivated a quasi-Southern image kinda like what St. Louis has done (fun fact: Baltimore is at almost the exact same latitude as St. Louis). It seems like every year another couple cities come up in a serious way and get a national reputation and a few artists signed, but Bmore's still waiting. Of course, at heart it's an East coast city, and it will always be in New York's shadow and probably not even on Philly's level. And radio here is still very NYC-centric and records only make their way here from the South once they've already been everywhere else. Baltimore MC's all love the Lox and do freestyles over Roc-a-fella beats. But Baltimore is still weird and provincial in a lot of the ways that places in the South are, the cheap production style, the twisty accents. And Bmore club music is as isolated and eccentric as screw music or anything they got in the South. Anyway, here are some recent songs from Baltimore that all sound Southern in some way or another:

Hulio Shallone - "This Is My Hood"
Maybe it's Shalone, maybe it's spelled some other way, I dunno, but Julio's from Nature's Problem, who had a hit a couple years ago, "Shake It Shorty", and they had a song with Lil Flip not long ago. This song has been pretty big the last couple months, #1 on 92Q on and off. It's got the throbbing dirty south bass and he has a hoarse, gruff voice like Game, awkward double time flow like everyone had in the 90's when they'd do token bounce tracks, sings along with the trumpet fanfare on the hook, "this is the hooooood, and in the hood we wild out, this is the hooooood, that's what we do". And he just dropped a remix w/ new hook/verses over the Pitbull "Dammit Man" beat.

Live Wire - "Hurt 'Em"
I've seen people invoke typewriters to describe Timbaland-style busy clicky hi-hat patterns, but that's not what I'm talking about at all when I say that the percussion sound that hits on the 1, the 4 and the 7 of every measure of this song and goes a couple bars unaccompanied at the very beginning sounds just like someone stabbing one key on a rusty old typewriter. There's a busy hi-hat pattern too, but mainly it's that rusty pounding that drives the whole thing. Rod Lee is great at pulling out sounds like those for his beats, flat little clacking things that are perfect on club tracks but sound a little cheap and silly on hip hop production. But now that everyone's convinced that Lil Jon is an expensive brand name they want to hear stuff that makes his beats sound slick by comparison like "Knuck If You Buck" and "White Tee", which is the exact perfect climate for Rod Lee to become a super producer outside of Baltimore. The hook has kind of the same "hurt 'em" chant as on another song RL produced, "Spit Part II" by Tim Trees, but otherwise not the same. The only sound besides drums and Live Wire's voice and Rod's voice on the track is this little 3-note riff, it's all the same note, I think it's a G, during the verses it's just a little hum of bass, during the choruses it goes up an octave and turns into a brass synth patch.

C. Miller - "Mean Mug"
Not to be confused with the corny new Xzibit song. This is pretty convincingly Southern, I thought it was some up and coming hit from somewhere else until I found out it was local. At least I think it's local, this is another one I don't know much about, don't know if I got the guy's name right. It's ok, loud and ominous with a grumbly low-voiced chorus kinda like "Headsprung".

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This is Tislam God Allah. Or to some Tislam or Tislam The Great. Balitmore has more to offer than that down south/crunk/bouncy music. Or that shaddow NY music. Plus there is cats from NC that dont even spit like that or like that music. You got Little Brother and Justice League. Or the new lable down there crushin the with that REAL HIPHOP Neblina Records

But lets get back to bmore. Of which I will speak for my self. Check out My Music Link For BIO and some Dope Hiphop. My whole crew and the real raw Hiphop. And there is so many more not on the " on " Commecail music. Trying to give them real life.

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