Southern hip hop
||This article may contain original research. (October 2011)|
|Southern hip hop|
|Stylistic origins||Hip hop, Miami Bass, Electro, G-funk, Gangsta Rap|
|Cultural origins||1980s, 1990s Houston|
|Typical instruments||Synthesizer, Drum machine, Turntables, Rapping, sequencer, sampler|
|Derivative forms||Crunk, Trap, Bounce|
|Bounce - Snap Music - Atlanta hip hop - Chopped and Screwed - Electro hop - Trap
Southern hip hop, also known as Southern rap, South coast hip hop or Dirty South, is a blanket term for a subgenre of American hip hop music that emerged in the Southern United States, especially in New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Memphis, and Miami.
The music was a reaction to the 1980s flow of hip hop culture from New York City and the Los Angeles area, and can be considered a third major American hip hop genre, after East Coast hip hop and West Coast hip hop. Many early Southern rap artists released their music independently or on mixtapes after encountering difficulty securing record-label contracts in the 1990s. By the early 2000s, many Southern artists had attained national success, and as the decade went on, both mainstream and underground varieties of Southern hip-hop became among the most popular and influential of the entire genre.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the American hip hop music market was primarily dominated by artists from the East Coast and West Coast. Los Angeles and New York City were the two main cities where hip hop was receiving widespread attention. In the 1980s, cities throughout the Southern United States began to catch on to the hip hop music movement. The Geto Boys, a hip hop group from Houston, were among the first hip hop artists from the Southern United States to gain widespread popularity. Southern hip hop's roots can be traced to the success of Geto Boys' Grip It! On That Other Level in 1989, the Rick Rubin produced The Geto Boys in 1990, and We Can't Be Stopped in 1991. After the Geto Boys rose to stardom, Houston became the center for Southern hip hop. Miami also played a major role in the rise of Southern Hip-hop during this time frame with successful acts like 2 Live Crew and other artists who relied heavily on the Miami bass sound. In the late 1980s, other rising rap groups such as UGK from Port Arthur, Texas, and 8 Ball & MJG from Memphis, moved to Houston to further their musical careers.
By the 1990s, Atlanta had become a controlling city in southern hip hop music. Hip hop groups such as OutKast and Goodie Mob played a huge part in helping the South become a center for hip hop music. OutKast's Big Boi and Andre 3000 became the first Southern artists to generate album sales like the powerhouse rappers on the East and West coasts.
The most successful Southern labels during the mid-to-late 90's came out of the cities of Memphis and New Orleans. Both scenes borrowed heavily from a production style first introduced by way of the obscure late-1980s New York rap group The Showboyz, heavily sampling the beats from their songs "Triggerman" and "Drag Rap". By the turn of the century these scenes found mainstream success through Cash Money Records and No Limit Records out of New Orleans and Hypnotize Minds out of Memphis, revolutionizing financial structures and strategies for independent Southern rap labels.
By the early to mid-2000s, artists from all over the South had begun to develop mainstream popularity with artists like T.I., Ludacris, Lil Jon, and Young Jeezy from Atlanta, Trick Daddy and Rick Ross from Miami, Lil Wayne and Juvenile from New Orleans, and Three 6 Mafia and Yo Gotti from Memphis all becoming major label stars during this time. In 2004, OutKast won six Grammy awards for their album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, including Best Album, while in 2006 the members of Three 6 Mafia won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" from Hustle and Flow, a Hollywood film about a fictional Southern rap artist. In 2005, the Houston rap scene saw a revival in mainstream popularity, and many Houston rappers started to get nation-wide and world-wide audience such as Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Chamillionaire, UGK, Pimp C, Bun B, Lil' Flip, and Slim Thug.
Unlike hip hop in other regions of the United States, numerous mainstream Southern rap artists did not come from larger cities. Notable examples include Field Mob, natives of Albany, Georgia, Bubba Sparxxx, from LaGrange, Georgia, and Nappy Roots, from Bowling Green, Kentucky and the artists of Trill Entertainment out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Popular Southern artists to emerge in recent years include Big K.R.I.T., Yelawolf, B.o.B, 2 Chainz, Flo Rida, Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane. In addition, many younger non-Southern artists such as French Montana and ASAP Rocky have acknowledged being heavily influenced by Southern styles of hip hop.
In 2009, the New York Times called Atlanta "hip-hop's center of gravity", and the city is home to many famous hip-hop, R&B and neo soul musicians. Local multi-platinum artists include OutKast, Ludacris, T.I., Usher, Ciara, B.o.B and Young Jeezy. Others include:
In the 1980s and early 1990s Atlanta's hip hop scene was characterized by a local variant of Miami's electro-driven bass music, with stars like Kilo Ali, MC Shy-D, Raheem the Dream and DJ Smurf (later Mr. Collipark). MC Shy-D is credited with bringing authentic Bronx-style hip-hop to Atlanta (and Miami), such as 1988's Shake it produced by DJ Toomp; Jones was signed to controversial southern rap label Luke Records, run by Luther Campbell aka "Uncle Luke". Arrested Development won the Grammy in 1992 with Tennessee, while Mr. Wendal & People Everyday and Kris Kross won with their hit song Jump.
By the mid-1990s, the rise of OutKast, Goodie Mob and the production collective Organized Noize, let to the development of the Dirty South style of hip-hop and of Atlanta gaining a reputation for "soul-minded hip-hop eccentrics", contrasting with other regional styles.
From the late 1990s to early 2000s, producer Lil Jon was a driving force behind the party-oriented style known as crunk. Record Producers L.A. Reid and Babyface founded LaFace Records in Atlanta in the late-1980s; the label eventually became the home to multi-platinum selling artists such as Toni Braxton, TLC, Ciara. It is also the home of So So Def Records, a label founded by Jermaine Dupri in the mid-1990s, that signed acts such as Da Brat, Jagged Edge, Xscape and Dem Franchise Boyz. The success of LaFace and SoSo Def led to Atlanta as an established scene for record labels such as LaFace parent company Arista Records to set up satellite offices.
In 2009, the New York Times noted that after 2000, Atlanta moved "from the margins to becoming hip-hop's center of gravity, part of a larger shift in hip-hop innovation to the South." Producer Drumma Boy called Atlanta "the melting pot of the South". Producer Fatboi called the Roland TR-808 ("808") synthesizer "central" to Atlanta music's versatility, used for snap, crunk, trap, and pop rap styles. The same article named Drumma Boy, Fatboi, Shawty Redd, Lex Luger and Zaytoven the five "hottest producers driving the city".
Preceding the early 1990s, most Southern hip hop was upbeat and fast, like Miami bass and crunk. In Houston, a different approach of slowing music down, rather than speeding it up, developed. It is unknown when DJ Screw definitively created "screwed and chopped" music: although people around Screw have indicated any time between 1984 to 1991, Screw said he started slowing music down in 1990 and also in Tulsa Oklahoma Dj Dinero And Dj Z-Nasty helped popularize Chopped And Screwed music in the Mid South. There is no debate, however, that DJ Screw invented the music style." He discovered that dramatically reducing the pitch of a record gave a mellow, heavy sound that emphasized lyrics to the point of almost storytelling. After messing around with the sound for a while Screw started making full length "Screw Tapes". At first the music was only referred to as "Screw music", was limited to the South Side of Houston, and was seen as laid-back driving music. As Screw's tapes started to gain popularity he started selling his tapes for around $10. Screw was known to feature some of Houston's most renowned rappers from the South Side. This eventually led to the formation of the Screwed Up Click. Between 1991 and 1992, there was a large increase in use of purple drank in Houston. Purple drank has been considered to be a major influence in the making of and listening to chopped and screwed music due to its perceived effect of slowing the brain down, giving slow, mellow music its appeal. DJ Screw, however, repeatedly denounced the claim that one has to use purple drank to enjoy screwed and chopped music. Screw, a known user of purple drank, said he came up with chopped and screwed music when high on marijuana. In the mid-1990s, chopped and screwed music started to move to the North Side of Houston and to such people as DJ Michael "5000" Watts and OG RON C. It wasn't long until a rivalry between north and south Houston started over who were the "originators" and who were the "adopters". Michael "5000" Watts always gave credit to DJ Screw as the originator of chopped and screwed music. It is also believed that Michael "5000" Watts came up with the term "screwed and chopped". As time passed and a younger generation got into the style, there became less worry over who was an originator of the style and who was an adopter. In the late 1990s, with the help of P2P groups such as Napster, chopped and screwed music spread to a much wider audience.
As the spread of Southern Rap continued the year 2000 became a breakthrough year for one founding group. UGK made a high-profile guest appearance on Jay-Z's smash hit "Big Pimpin'" and also appeared on Three 6 Mafia's hit "Sippin' on Some Syrup". Both of these collaborations greatly increased their reputation, and helped fuel anticipation for their next project. Jive Records failed to capitalize on this new-found interest in the duo, as their fourth album, 2001's Dirty Money, came and went with little fanfare.
Swishahouse was founded in North Houston in the late 1990s by Michael '5000' Watts and OG Ron C as a response to the popularity of chopped and screwed music from Houston's south side. The label began by distributing mixtape series such as Before da Kappa, After da Kappa, Choppin Em Up and Fuck Action (which featured chopped and screwed versions of R&B songs). Acres Homes/Northside/Homestead are where many of the current/former artists hail.A song that originally appeared on the compilation album The Day Hell Broke Loose 2, Mike Jones' "Still Tippin'", achieved mainstream success in 2004, leading to Swishahouse signing a national distribution deal with Asylum Records. Jones released his major label debut, Who Is Mike Jones?, on Swishahouse/Warner Bros. in April 2005; the album was certified platinum that June.Aftermath A&R Angelo Sanders said that the great advantage to independents like Swishahouse is that, "They're able to get their product out on the streets to specific regions at a greater speed than a major ... They're able to flood that whole Texas market with a product before the majors are able to notice what is going on out there."Paul Wall's major label debut, The Peoples Champ, on Swishahouse/Atlantic, was released in September 2005, eventually topping the Billboard 200. Before embarking on his rap career and while still at school, Wall had worked in the Swishahouse office. In 2006, rival label Dope House Records and Swishahouse teamed up to release South Park Mexican's ninth album, When Devils Strike. A chopped and screwed version was also released.
- DJ Screw
- Bun B
- Pimp C
- Scarface (rapper)
- Lil' Keke
- Big Moe
- Fat Pat (rapper)
- Big Mello
- Big Hawk
- Screwed Up Click
- South Park Coalition
- Devin the Dude
- Lil' Flip
- Lil' Troy
- The Color Changin' Click
- Mike Jones
- Kirko Bangz
- Slim Thug
- Paul Wall
- Lil Boss
The term crunk is used as a blanket term to denote any style of southern hip hop, but it is mainly used to denote a musical style that originated in Memphis, Tennessee, in the mid-to-late 1990s. It was popularised by Atlanta rapper Lil' Jon, and gained mainstream popularity in the period 2003–04. A typical crunk track uses a drum machine rhythm, heavy bassline, and shouting vocals, often in call and response manner.
Notable musicians 
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- Burks, Maggie (September 3, 2008). "Southern Hip-Hop". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved September 11, 2008.
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- Hebblewaith, Phil. "808 State Of Mind: Proto-Crunk Originator DJ Spanish Fly". The Quietus. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
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- Westhoff, Ben. "Finger-Lickin' Rap." Utne Reader 166 (2011): 80-83. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Sep 14, 2011
- Chou, Kimberly (January 11, 2013). "Rapper Marks Rise of Eclectic Sound". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- "John Caramanica, "Gucci Mane, No Holds Barred ", ''New York Times'', December 11, 2009". Nytimes.com. December 13, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Rose, Joel (July 4, 2008). "NPR: "Atlanta soul scene reborn"". M.npr.org. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- "Mickey Hess, ''Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide: Volume 1: East Coast and West Coast''". Books.google.com. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Miller, Matt: "Dirty Decade: Rap Music and the U.S. South, 1997-2007".
- "Lil Jon crunks up the volume", NY Times, November 28, 2004
- "Southern Lights", Vibe Dec 2003
- Film New Flavors: The Emergence of Southern Hip Hop (2008)
- News about Southern hip hop artists
- Matt Miller[disambiguation needed], "Dirty Decade: Rap Music and the U.S. South, 1997-2007", Southern Spaces, June 10, 2008.