An Ode to Rap City
New York City, the city that never sleeps— unless you live in one of the outer boroughs, is getting a well-deserved royal treatment as the Mecca of rap with the help of Jay Shells. The city that has inspired popular rap songs, lyrics, ad-libs and idioms, like the infamous, “WHERE BROOKLYN AT,” has become part of his really dope street art project Rap Quotes. Inspired by rap lyrics that specify a specific street, or location in our beloved city, Shells has put up signs at the places like the Flatbush Junction and on 106 and Park. A project with the online site Animal, you can watch Shells in his adventures through Marcy and beyond. Using very specific rules which include, “Only one quote per rapper goes up, and the location must be a very specific corner, park or restaurant-venue, not an entire block or neighborhood,” this project not only brings a bit of nostalgia to us hip hop heads when we find ourselves in some parts of our hoods, it also brings recognition to New York rappers that may have been forgotten or that you may have never heard of. I think an even bigger part of the project is that it reminds me of how far some of our favorite rappers have come from. Working and pushing in working class neighborhoods to “106 and Park pushing a Benz.” The project is a real artistic and motivational experience for those living and from these specific corners, streets and hood. I also loved that Shells uses a diverse array of rappers from Capital Steez to Jay Z. My only problem with this fantastic project is that I hadn’t come up with it first.
Lest we ever dare forget how important New York is to rap— Yeah, you, southern rappers. The mother of rap is getting adorned in the words of its children. Go ahead and check out Rap Quotes at places like the Marcy Projects or even inside your home at ANIMAL.
What are some of your favorite rap songs about the BIG APPLE? Sound off!
Words by: Chrislande