In New York, a young college student wakes up to get ready for work. He lives on campus, but his job is in another borough. Leaving his dorm, he walks a couple of blocks down to the subway to take metro. During his commute to work, he spends most of his time walking and riding the train. Earphones, in his ear, he listens to an assortment of rap songs with hard drums, samples, and airy beats that give leeway for the emcee on the song to speak to him. During his long commute, he wants to listen to every detail.
In Texas, a group of guys are getting ready to go out for the night. One of the hot spots around town is a local club where most of the fun happens outside in the parking lot. Groups of people ride slow, cruising the parking lot like an amateur car show is taking place. The prowess of the ride, from the rims, to the sound, is what’s on full display. The group of guys gather in an old Caprice that looks like it was made in 2011, but was actually made in 1987. As they make the commute from the freeway to the club, they listen to an assortment of raps songs with 808 kick drums, soulful samples that sound like 70’s band covers, heavy bass, and catchy melodies for the songs’ choruses. The sound is the soundtrack for the night.
In California, a group of guys are riding around. The California weather is just perfect enough for the driver to let the top back on his Impala. Riding past palm trees, shops, and pretty women, the prowess of the ride is what’s on full display. Blasting from the stereo is an assortment of rap songs with funk samples, heavy bass, and catchy melodies. The music is aggressive, yet laidback.
What am I getting at?
The culture of a region dictates the type of hip hop that is popular in that region.
As far as hip hop goes, not one coast or region is necessarily better. Good music is good music. But maybe the cultures of our regions influence the taste for that region. On the East Coast, people don’t spend as much time in their cars. Everything is always on the move. When things finally do slow down, then it’s a time to take in everything around you, including the music. In the South, we spend most of our time in our cars. It’s one of the reasons why Southern music and West Coast music have such similar sounds. Both of our cultures are laidback. ]
This doesn’t mean that Southerners prefer beats over lyrics, or that East Coast listeners need everything to be deep. It doesn’t mean that West Coast listeners have a particular preference. I’m of the mindset, “To each his own.”
I just know that when I’m on my way to kick it, I want to listen to something with heavy bass, an 808 drum with a kick harder than Habanero, a hook that sets the mood for the debauchery I’m about to get into, with misogynistic lyrics that aren’t outright vulgar, but poetically intertwined with the music in such a way that it’s tastefully vulgar.
And I want you to hear it from a block away.
How do you like the majority of your music? Do you prefer catchy or deep lyrics? Do you prefer wittiness or something that draws emotion?