Friday, June 8, 2007
While I am a self-professed music geek, I am well aware that I am still frequently 'out of the loop,' as they say. This is particularly true in regards to hip hop. While I am certainly a fan of hip hop, it's a genre where I generally rely on other people to inform me of what's worth checking out, particularly as there's so much out there. But I'm always interested to hear new artists and generic developments.
Which brings me to a few weeks ago, when my friend James asked me if I'd ever heard of a subgenre of hip hop known as 'hyphy' (pronounced HI-FEE). And I hadn't! He passed on an NPR story on the genre, wherein they reviewed a recent compilation on TVT Records called Hyphy Hitz.
I tracked down the report (which you can listen to here and gave a listen. The first thing that struck me was "Wow, could Ken Tucker be any whiter in reviewing this disc?" The snippets included in the report piqued my interest, but I had no luck locating the album online. Fast forward a few weeks. The night before I left Pittsburgh, I stopped at my favorite location of a regional used cd chain. What did I find in the hip hop racks for $5? Yep, Hyphy Hitz!.
Admittedly, the disc is a mixed bag. Some tracks are incredibly hot, some are merely amusing, and some just aren't that interesting. But overall, it's a good mix of tunes providing an overview of this subgenre.
Wikipedia has this to say about the genre:
Although the hyphy movement started in the early '90s, it began to emerge in the early 2000s as a response from Bay Area rappers against commercial hip hop for not acknowledging the Bay for setting trends in the hip hop industry. Although the "hyphy movement" has just recently seen light in mainstream America, it has been a long standing and evolving culture in the Bay Area. Bay Area rapper Keak Da Sneak takes credit for coining the term when, as a young boy, his mother would often tell him he was hyperactive. He would repeat the word "hyper" as "hyphy".
Hyphy music is distinguished by gritty, pounding rhythms and in this sense can be associated with the Bay Area as crunk music is to the South; however, contrary to popular belief, the musical aspect of the Hyphy movement has very few similarities to crunk music as it is dictated by more up-tempo beats. An individual is said to "get hyphy" when they act or dance in an overstated and ridiculous manner. Those who consider themselves part of the Hyphy movement would describe this behavior as acting "stupid" or "going dumb." In contrast to much of popular American culture where these phrases would be considered negative or even insulting, Hyphy is distinguished by taking this kind of behavior as a form of pride.
So here you go. Something to bump in your stereo over the weekend!
V/A- Hyphy Hitz