Mapping hip hop, this site, and Philadelphia

Hip hop makes no equivocation about the importance of place and origin. The importance of what city’s taking, making, creating or faking. North vs. South, East vs. West. Representing where you’re from and never forgetting.

So what happens when a rapper is from somewhere and nowhere? When he’s born in New Orleans then lives in Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, D.C., Denver, and Detroit?

Jay Electronica (up to this point best known for his indescribable beatless melding of rap and the soundtrack for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind answers with his beautiful “Scenario C,” mapping a geography of rap:

While you was debating who the truth was, like Jews and Christians
I was on Cecil B, Broad Street, Master
North Philly, South Philly, 23rd, Tasker
6 Mile, 8 Mile, Hardwell, Brasher

Flipping through Philly’s hip hop (and violence) hot points then detouring into Detroit, he constructs a narrative that underwrites the importance of place, then undermines it with a Walt Whit laundry list of places he encompasses. A man from everywhere and nowhere. And while he’s at it, he brings back the overprocessed soul of three years ago and makes it breathe. Can’t wait to see where he goes next.

And so, on this placeless note that includes the best Philly-streets-only lyric I’ve ever heard, I introduce this collaborative music blog and one of its features, “Where You’re From,” where contributors will brag about music from or about their fair cities. Enjoy, wherever you are.

Jay Eletronica, “Exhibit C”

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