Meet me in the trap, it’s going down.. down south that is. In August, JuGatti and I decided to pick up “Dirty South” by Ben Westhoff, focusing on Southern hip-hop game changers. The two of us were scratching our heads when the topic of who ran the South came up one Saturday night and we decided to get fully educated on it from A to Z, or Andre 3000 to Z-Ro in this case. This book highlighted artists who revolutionized rap and put some southern flavor in it, including hit-makers out of Hotlanta, old school pimps and players, and dynamic dirty south duos.
Get into this country grammar with JuGatti and I discussing “Dirty South” below.
1. Why do you think it was so hard for the south to gain respect in hip hop? Do you believe the south has finally received the respect it deserves?
Manito: First things first, New York is not easy to please when it comes to music. Not sure if it had to do with the fact that we’re the originators or that we’re just overall ruthless, but fans and OG MCs weren’t having it when the South rap scene surfaced and I personally think it’s because southern rappers aren’t usually known for their spitters. When you think of Southern rap you think of gimmicky type of tunes or dance songs and now it’s trap and mumble rap. There weren’t too many commercial Southern artists that were core MCs. But now, I definitely believe they have their respect because almost every hot new artist you hear now is out the South or has some type of trap influence or sound. I hear more Atlanta artists on today’s radio in NY than anything.
JuGatti: It was so hard for the South to gain respect because they were different, simple and plain. Most people are usually resistant to change, and that is exactly what the south was bringing. Different slang, diction, thoughts, all of it. While the topics they rapped about were the same, the viewpoints and thought processes were extremely different. Especially during the 90’s where the regions mattered. If you weren’t from a certain place 9/10 you wasn’t getting radio play. I don’t think the south will ever fully get the respect it deserves. There will always be a stereotype that the south is all dance music, or snap and pop shit when it’s more than that. You tell someone that T.I is a lyrical MC, and their face will twist up. I believe nowadays it is slightly easier for the south to gain their props, because regions and where your from in hip hop isn’t as prevalent an issue anymore. However, even though the south has come a long way, it will always be an uphill battle for them to gain the full recognition they deserve.
2. What is something new that you learned about the south or the artist(s) that you found in this book?
Manito: Before this book, I knew nothing about 8Ball & MJG except that they were from Memphis and they did a song with Three 6, so that was definitely new territory for me. I got to learn more elaborate details on the Gucci/Jeezy beef and some of Gucci’s earlier legal drama. It was also really dope learning more about Houston’s independent rap scene. Houston rappers like Chamillionaire and Paul Wall were already well established before getting deals and getting on a DJ Screw mixtape was your way of saying you made it in Houston. I got the scoop on Outkast’s creative relationship too and how Big Boi is loyal to a fault when it comes to 3K no matter what direction he decides to take.
JuGatti: Learning about Soulja Slim was definitely new information for me. When ‘Slow Motion’ came out I didn’t know much about him, nor did I know why he was so beloved by New Orleans. After reading I learned that he was pretty much the physical embodiment of what the NO means to them. He went hard, and in essence lived up to his soldier moniker. Though he was briefly touched upon it was interesting to see how the regions and cultures embrace those that came from the places they are from. While Soulja Slim to me was a person who met an untimely demise, to them he is a legend and it’s always dope to see whom and what people put their value in. Also Master P’s section. That nigga is such a damn hustler it’s not funny. His story is mad inspiring and it’s a story I feel isn’t told enough especially in the hip hop world where artist get fcked out of their money on the regular basis. If anyone deserves a biopic it is definitely that man.
3. What southern artist do you feel should’ve also been included in this book and why?
Manito: Growing up I was in to Ludacris so I was surprised he didn’t have a chapter. He may have not revolutionized Southern rap but he was definitely a BIG part of Atlanta and the 99s and the 2000s. He had an extensive career, commercial success, and he was dope! His presence was compelling, he was super creative in songs and videos, and he made good music. He even had a little thing going with DTP with artists like Bobby Valentino, Shawnna, Field Mobb, Lil Scrappy, that group 2 Chainz was in and all that.
JuGatti: I am kind of cheating with this answer but I would’ve loved to see a chapter based around FreakNik and how it impacted southern hip-hop and the artist. From the stories floating around, FreakNik seemed like it was the MOVE back then, and I can just imagine the wild first hand stories some of the rappers had about it. I also would’ve like a chapter on female MC’s from the south because them chicks were vicious. Gangsta Boo, Trina, Jackie-O, Mia X, Khia, shit even the Crime Mob girls went hard. So that would’ve been a dope point of view to hear, especially with how wild the southern rap scene is, I wondered if that had any profound effect on them. Like did they feel they had to tailor make their image to appeal to their sexuality etc etc.
4. Which southern artist of the past do you feel would be successful within the new generation of hip hop? On the flip side, which new generation southern artist do you think would’ve been relevant had they come out in the 90’s or 2000’s?
Manito: I think Young Dro was ahead of his time. Sure he had a dance song hit with Shoulder Lean that was perfect for his era but his colorful metaphors would’ve been better appreciated now seeing how much everyone loves 2 Chainz. As far as new generation artists that would’ve ate if they came up back in the day, I happen to think Rae Srummerd would definitely be a duo good for the early 2000s, they make a lot of party hits. Yo Gotti’s artist Moneybagg Yo has a sound I think would’ve been solid back then, I could hear him on an early 1017 Gucci mixtape. Obviously Silento with “Whip, Nae Nae” and iLoveMemphis with “Hit the Quan” would’ve thrived back then in the Crank Dat/Stanky Leg era. And I would add Big K.R.I.T. too, I think he would’ve flourished back then. He’s got a more lyrical focus while most rappers out the south now focus on melodies or catchy shit.
JuGatti: Sheesh this is actually tough. I feel as though the music scene is so different from the artist and consumer aspect now. 3 6 Mafia I believe would’ve fared well in this musical climate. Regardless of what is going on in hip hop there is always room for a party anthem and much of their tracks would’ve definitely did numbers. Mike Jones would’ve did pretty good because his marketing scheme was so simple yet effective that he would’ve had social media in a vice grip. Not to mention his lyrics and such were catchy and so easy to digest and that’s the wave for younger listeners. New southern artist that I think would fare well in older southern rap I would probably say Kodak Black. I think he would’ve fit right in with Boosie, Webbie, and Trill Ent. He would’ve been the heir to the family after Boosie got locked up because there styles are so similar. So I think he would’ve been a solid addition to that team.
5.Lastly, we chose to read this book due to an ongoing discussion of who the definitive king (or queen) of the south is? After reading, who do YOU feel is the undisputed king (or queen) and why?
Manito: After reading this book, I STILL say Outkast are the Southern rap kings. I was a HUGE Outkast fan, and I still am, I love my boys. They plataeaued commercial Southern rap with their debut and were rocking ever since and they have the best selling hip-hip album ever (Speakerboxx/The Love Below). They had a global reach and marched to the beat of their own drummer and it worked for them. Even if we put sales aside, BOTH 3K & Big Boi could rap, they made hits. I’m sure your grandma is still shaking it like a Polaroid picture mmmkay? According to the masses, Scarface is the undisputed king of the south and I have so much respect for Face as an artist.. BUT his impact never reached me or most New York ears matter of fact. Fun fact: in the book I learned the only place he got booed was in New York so that could be why but nevertheless… If it wasn’t for hearing him on tracks with Jay like Guess Who’s Back or This Can’t Be Life, I wouldn’t haven’t even thought to listen to him on my own.
JuGatti: Man great book and all that jazz but my opinion still stays the same, it’s definitely Outkast. I can’t even think of another artist(s) off the top of my head who released so many classic albums consecutively. Their lyrics, content, experimentation, fearlessness just leaves them head and shoulders above the competition. When Andre said “the south got something to say” he wasn’t playing because OutKast definitely held true to that claim.
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