This week’s issue of NME sees us shine a light on New York’s new hip-hop movement Beast Coast – as represented by Joey Bada$$. With his crew, Pro Era, Joey’s making music heavy on nineties samples, lyrical puns and a whole lot of anti-violence.
Oh, and a strong dose of spirituality.
Pro Era and two other Brooklyn crews, Flatbush Zombies and new Fly-Lo label Brainfeeder signees The Underachievers, all trade under the name Beast Coast (a combination of ‘best’ and ‘east’ coast), and are set on bringing a new era into focus with their so-called ‘third eye’. It’s not been without tragedy though – shortly after we went to press, Beast Coast rapper Jamal Dewar – Pro Era’s Capital Steez – passed away, suspected to have taken his own life on Christmas Eve. So, the first track on our New New York selection below is Pro Era’s tribute to him. The rest of the tracks have been handpicked from the last year to show the cross-pollination between New York crews that I think make this the most exciting time for hip-hop in the city in a decade.
This remixed version of ‘Like Water’ from ‘PEEP the Aprocalypse’ is a fitting tribute to the tragic loss of the 19-year-old rapper, with its piano refrain and the simple message: “Capital Steez rest in peace.”
From Spanish Harlem in uptown Manhattan, Bodega BAMZ joins forces with Beast Coast crew Flatbush Zombies for this track off the November mixtape ‘Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z.’
Also from Harlem, Smoke DZA has been making hip hop in New York for some time, but picked up momentum last year with help from producer Harry Fraud, who is also featured on his October mixtape ‘KONY’.
A$AP Mob, represented here by A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ant, joined with Zombie Juice and Meech from Flatbush Zombies for this track ‘Bath Salt’.
Beast Coast crew The Underachievers were welcomed to Flying Lotus label Brainfeeder by the man himself in September, when Fly-Lo hailed them as being “pretty amazing”.
Children of the Night are three rappers lauded by MTV as, “possibly the best thing out of Queens, New York, since A Tribe Called Quest.” Decide for yourself with this self-explanatory track, ‘Kids From Queens’.
Three New York crews connect on this track: A$AP’s Ant, Zombie Juice from Flatbush Zombies and Remy Banks, from World’s Fair.
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If you like the weirdness espoused by Erick Arc Elliott on ‘Face-Off’, check out his solo work ‘Hills and Valleys’, released last week: