How New York Rap Lost it’s Identity… & Cali Found It’s Own

Fantastic article! I appreciate your willingness to share the depth of your hip hop knowledge with the rest of us. I’m a jazz lover and musician from LA, so I find your descriptions of the distinctive “sound” of New York hip hop vs West Coast hip hop both interesting, and insightful. You mention how “To Pimp A Butterfly” uses a lot of live instrumentation (props to the West Coast Get Down) and how this has been the wave in LA hip hop for years. There’s one thing that I’ve always found baffling about New York hip hop. New York has an abundance of elite jazz and session musicians. For decades, New York has been the proving grounds for jazz musicians in the same why it has for fashion designers. Name just about any jazz musician you can think of, and they generally have 5x more tour dates in NY compared to LA, and there are plenty of musicians for hire (there are session level musicians playing on street corners and subways for goodness sake). Did I mention that Julliard & the New School churn out world class musicians every year? Why hasn’t NY leveraged their wealth of jazz & session players to innovate in hip hop?

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