Ever since rappers got wind of the title of Nas’s recent Hip Hop Is Dead, they’ve been calling up radio stations, printing T-shirts, doing whatever they have to do to get the message across: “No it’s not!” Nas himself said in a recent radio interview that hip-hop lives “in New York, the South, the West, everywhere.” (Hey, it was only an album title.) So we went looking for where hip-hop lives on the Web and found a few gems.
Mistah FAB, “Ghost Ride It”
Straight from the belly of San Francisco’s nascent hyphy subculture comes a great goofy song with a video that’s every bit as hilarious. The synth-happy beat samples the Ghostbusters theme, and FAB and his crew ride around in the Ectomobile. “Ghost Ride, Ghost Ride/Get out the way let Casper drive!”
UGK, “The Game Belongs to Me”
After a five-year hiatus, Houston’s finest are out of jail and on the airwaves. Pimp C’s beat, overlaid with intermittent guitar noodles and knick-knacks, is an ever-shifting backdrop to the duo’s complex, slow-burn rhymes. It’s worth the 99 cents.
M.I.A., “Bird Flu”
The London-based MC’s first album may have skittered and stutter-started its way into the hearts of fans worldwide, but “Bird Flu” straight stomps. There’s one, pounding drum pattern, one vocal rhythm, and a monotone chorus of yelling children. Here’s to sticking with a good idea.
The Game feat. Kanye West, “Wouldn’t Get Far”
Chicago and LA round out the journey with a Kanye production that’s less outlandish than usual, though appropriately polished. But it does sound just a little too much like Just Blaze’s beat for “Oh, Boy!” As usual, the Game entertains by voicing an inexplicably weird beef.