Friday, October 23, 2009

A Whole Different Type of Homicide

"Virginia" - The Clipse - Lord Willin' (2002)

Rapping about where you are from is not a new thing in hip-hop but on "Virginia" The Clipse raise the bar once more and put other rappers on notice that VA is on the map for good. Love them or hate them The Neptunes always seem to step their game up when it comes time to producing a track for The Clipse and once again they don't disappoint. Like other Clipse songs The Neptunes understand that the rhymes and lyrics that Clipse have need to be front and center so what to do if you are a production team that thrives on putting their beats front and center? Well, you take a deep breath, you self edit a little, you produce a banging beat that rolls by like the boys in that car above. Dark, moody, and ominous, "Virginia" is not only The Clipse at their best but proves once again that The Neptunes are not a one trick pony either.

One complaint commonly voiced about hip-hop is that the subjects of the songs never change. Drugs. Violence. Pimping. Repeat. And, you know what, once can not really argue with that argument. Complaining about the repetition of these subjects is a fools game though. The reason the vast majority of rappers cover these subjects is because their life experiences are probably rather similar. Whether you live on the east coast, west coast, or in the south, growing up in the hood is probably remarkably similar no matter where you are. I don't hear anyone complaining that country music songs all cover the same subjects, because they do and it is for the same reason as above; growing up in Montana is most likely very similar to growing up in bum-fuck Alabama.

All this is to say that location is a very large and encompassing subject in hip-hop. Home is not only where you are from, it is who you are and will likely end up defining you as an artist. Unlike, say, in indie rock where the location of your existence means almost nothing, location for a hip-hop group can mean everything. So when The Clipse reps Virginia by making it the third song on their first album, this is not an accident. This is a bullet fired to the rest of the hip hop world that not only is The Clipse here to stay, but think twice about messing with any player from VA.

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