New York has been crucial in making the hip hop genre more well-known. Queensbridge, in particular, birthed many artists who delivered gems and classics to the game. From DJ Kool Herc and Kurtis Blow in the 80s to Jay Z, Biggie Smalls, and Nas in the 90s, the strong quality of music has been apparent from the start.
Among all the different themes and sounds oozing around New York, Queensbridge stood out for its intricate story-telling. Every bar, verse, and track had the common theme of rhyming about the thug life in the Queensbridge Houses.
Diving more deeply into the scene, the 41st Side (as it is commonly referred to) has shown to be one of the most prolific sectors in New York. The continuous emphasis on lyricism and production is what makes Queensbridge artists who they are. More mainstream rappers like Nas and Mobb Deep have continuously shown those qualities and proudly represented their sector.
“I woke up early on my born day; I’m 20, it’s a blessin’
The essence of adolescence leaves my body, now I’m fresh and
My physical frame is celebrated ‘cause I made it” – Nas on ‘Life’s a Bitch’
“Life is a gamble, we scramble for money
I might crack a smile but ain’t a damn thing funny
I’m caught up in the dirt where your hands get muddy” – Prodigy on ‘Eye for a Eye’
When Nas dropped Illmatic in ’94, their credibility grew bigger as the rest of the hip hop fanbase noticed the lyrical skill brewing. Later on in ’95, Mobb Deep carried on that momentum with The Infamous.
In terms of new artists, the Bridge has taken a downfall in recent years as Atlanta-based rappers have taken over with the rise of trap. Prodigy, a hip hop from Queensbridge, passed away in late June, giving the 41st Side some short-tame recognition for the importance they had on the genre.