Just finished listening to a bunch of tracks from Black Milk, a rapper/producer out of Detroit that has some incredible tracks. He makes you forget all about Kanye West, a prolific rapper/producer out of Chicago that has worked with a lot of artists from Chicago and Cleveland. He has a better flow, and his beats slaughter anything that Kanye has put out in the mainstream. So it really angers me when I think that he is not getting any mainstream recognition.
The only artists from the Midwest that are getting any recognition these days seem to be Kanye West, Eminem, Kid Cudi, and John Legend. That is such a minute sampling of what the region has to offer it isn’t even funny. Back in the seventies Ohio owned the funk scene like it was no one’s business. Groups and artists from Dayton and Cincinnati were known throughout the country. Roger Troutman, from a scrappy town named Dayton is still being sampled to this day.
Even Akron was able to push an artist here and there to the forefront. Devo was formed with members from Akron and Kent (a suburb). I’m not saying that the South and the West aren’t making good music. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t great hip-hop artists in New York anymore. But the artists in the Midwest have been neglected for too long.
It seems as though a Midwest artist has to sell their soul to the devil to get any recognition. Kanye West had to go with Roc-A-Fella just to get put on. We all know that the future of hip-hop is in the Midwest. The South is played out; all of those generic digital beats, as great as they are, can get stale after a while. Plus the South still lacks the diversity; truly great artists are often marginalized and left on the sidelines and we get garbage like Soulja Boy.
It is because no one wants to be in the Midwest anymore? It is because the jobs left for the South and greener pastures? Is it because the intellectual capital has been drained? Despite everything that is going on, there is no dearth of artistic talent in the region. Perhaps the struggle is part of the catalyst for the great music that is coming out of the region. The music companies are a lot smaller and do not have the distribution networks that the companies out on both Coasts (and the South) have. Keep bringing that great music. One day the rest of the world will know what we knew all along, and the mainstream will finally catch up. Until then we have Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj, hmm, I think I’ll turn off my radio for a minute …