Part of me will always be mournful for the slow decline of regional sounds. That’s not to say that regionalism doesn’t exist. It always will. When I went to Baton Rouge, the people there had minimal interest in hearing anything made north of Atlanta. Between Bronson and Roc Marc, this is one of the best weeks for New York rap since Murda Muzik. But the ease of transmission means that musicians are pulling from all over the world before they even have a chance to master their original style.
Of course, this can also lead to interesting collaborations that shouldn’t work but do. Take Lunice, the Canadian producer, who takes much of his inspiration from London and Lex Luger and who become famous off his project with a Scottish producer who grew up obsessed with New York boom-bap.
In the last week, Lunice dropped a pair of songs that attempt to connect the dots. First, thanks to a website, he got together in London with New Yorker Angel Haze, this generation’s Jean Grae (or Rah Digga), whose best song is a freestyle over a remix from a young London producer re-working one of the Last Poets. I don’t know if you’d call “Gimme That,” trap. There are fewer high hi-hats than TNGHT and it seems like a producer trying to remake Mannie Fresh if Mannie was born in 1991 London. That’s not to say that this is “Back that Azz Up,” (no OVO) but it’s effective and turns a lyrically lyrical song into something more glossy and anthemic. If offers a balance and futurism where otherwise it could been little more than backpack rehash attached to a post-Nicki Minaj flow.
A few days later, Lunice popped up in the production credits of “All I Know,” a collaboration between Oakland’s Shady Blaze and North Carolina’s Deniro Farrar. The result is far more restrained but equally efficient. Grounded by pour-some-liquor-out pianos and ghostly synths, “All I Know” sounds like a lost Z-Ro and Trae the Truth B-Side. All thug depression, fast raps, and raw fury. It shows a deceptive range that might surprise people who expect “real trap shit.” You already know the axiom that it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where your at. And the upside and downside of this generation is that they tend to never stay where they’re at for very long.