The East/West Coast conflict started festering when a handful of people got into a position where they could present music to the masses..ie djs and journalists. NYC being the #1 media market in the country and the birthplace of hip hop, had long held certain allure and appeal that set the tone for the hip hop nation. The current conflict has been a reaction from the east coast to no longer having complete influence over hip hop. In other words it's a control thang.|
In the early 80s when hip hop was just emerging on records, everyone from both coasts checked for a new rap song..But as it evolved folks from different parts of the country wanted to check for folks coming out there own back yard..They wanted to hear beats and lyrics that spoke directly to their musical heritage. In others words, when an artist like Mele-Mel dropped 'The Message' folks from hoods all around the world checked for that song. The fact that 'The Message' may not have been a complete picture for some kid living in the hood in Mississippi didn't matter. Mele was filling a void by talking about the modern day ghetto. But once folks like Too Short out of Oakland, or The Geto Boys out of Houston started rapping about their own hoods..folks in these parts tended to opt for the local flava over the material coming from NY. It wasn't like people had a dislike about New York or anything like that...however, hip hop at its best always spoke to the people and places it came from. Like the blues, which is really what hip hop is, the music reflected the musical heritage, slang and culture of a particular region or even people. Nevertheless, folks out west for the most part accepted and played both their locals as well as NY artists...NY was given love and mad respect.
On the other hand, NY's intolerance had been notorious and well documented.. When brothers from the Bronx first dropped in the late 70s they didn't wanna check for Brooklyn.. Then when Brooklyn dropped nobody respected Queens.. Then it was people from Long Island who got dissed. Later it was folks in Jersey and Philly who weren't being respected.. NY always took this attitude that basically said 'the world revolves around NY and y'all ain't crap cause hip hop started here..' This attitude was reflected by a handful of djs and NY 'critics' who would set a tone by publicly dissin' hip hop music that wasn't from their neck of the woods. They wouldn't play the'outside' music on radio or in clubs.. Writers would be overly critical and apply a New York based standard when listening to hip hop. In other words if James Brown samples were popular in New York and P-Funk was happening out west or in Texas...NY 'critics' would voice an unfavorable opinion. If a rapper put out a song where you could hear his non New York accent or flow..he was roundly criticized and called 'country' or 'wack'. What made these opinions a sticking point for many was the fact that at the time NY hip hop 'critics' carried a lot of weight.. all over the world.
What also wasn't realized was that when the NY djs and press dissed an artists from another region they in a sense were dissing that artist's entire community who saw that artist as a hometown hero. A dis to Too Short was a dis to Oakland.. A dis to Philly rappers like Schoolly D, Fresh Prince and Marvelous Marv was a slap to all the Philly folks who felt these guys were representin'.
In fact many hip hop regions blew up inspite of NY's bias...These local scenes blew up to a point where they could no longer be ignored... Folks may recall that at one point, Philadelphia was bucking to be the nation's rap capital... Across the Hudson River artists like Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature and that whole Jersey Flavor Unit clique went on to put their folks on the map in an undeniable way... Because of proximity and people being able to easily go back and forth, Jersey and Philly artists eventually began to get a good amount of respect within New York. For the most part the musical heritage along the eastern seaboard was similar. New York set most of the tone and it was relatively easy for others to adapt. This was and has not been the case for people living 3000 miles away in California.
Because of the distance there wasn't a consistent exchange of people to help dispel all the stereotypes folks from back east held of California. The most prevalent being that there were no ghettos and everyone was a surfer type if they were from LA. If they hailed from the SF Bay Area, they were stereotyped to be gay or some sort of hippie. Unfortunately, many east coast folks weren't able to really hang out in Cali and learn what it was all about culturally and musically.