The Big Apple.
What is it good for?
Well, as you could have probably guessed, music. What kind of music though?
Firstly, hip hop. (Shocking, I know)
Basically, I'm all about the East Coast when it comes to hip hop, and New York is the epicenter. The West does have some redeeming artists however, like Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and really I grew up with NWA and 2Pac, but nothing beats the East.
Such a ridiculously strong group, and hugely influential. At the time when Dre's G Funk was taking over hip hop for the West Coast, New York, the birthplace of hip hop, needed something big to strike back. The Wu-Tang Clan more than delivered.
As a group, they are amazing, and released an absolute classic:
Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Individually, they have between them some of the greatest hip hop albums of all time:
GZA - Liquid Swords
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... pt II
Ghostface Killah - Ironman
Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele
For a while it seemed like this guy was more interested in being an actor than producing quality tunes, but 2009's The Ecstatic proved he is still one of the best. Mos Def is a favourite of mine because he has a great flow, thoughtful lyrics, but also is very musical. His style seems to work much better with interesting and diverse beats than most out there.
Also, Mos Def teamed up with Talib Kweli to form Black Star, a very powerful duo with an amazing album:
Another great who helped restore NYC to power in the 90's, Nas is often seen as the guy with an amazing debut yet quite average career... and that is basically because it is true. Illmatic is widely held as a hip hop essential; a classic. What Nas did after that however... well, we won't even go there. Let's just say it isn't worth your time.
The underground king, Daniel Dumile, better known as MF Doom. Heavily influenced by comic books and weed, this guy has some awesome rhymes, and is a hugely talented MC. He has done plenty of stuff, though here are some highlights.
As MF Doom:
As Viktor Vaughn:
As Madvillain (with Madlib):
As Dangerdoom (with Dangermouse):
He wasn't born in NY but I don't care.
A Tribe Called Quest
Jazzy hip hop with lyrics focusing on social commentary instead of gangsta bravado. Influential, important, talented... I feel like I'm repeating myself. Anyways, it's great stuff.
There is plenty of great stuff I have not mentioned, like De La Soul and Public Enemy, but hey - there is still heaps of quality here.
Stay tuned for pt II, and the next genre of New York dominance.