William Leon Rhodes a.k.a Billy Roadz
Since I´ll be blogging from the N.Y./N.J. area in a few months time, I thought I would take it back to Jerz for a moment. Living on the West Coast non-stop, you lose touch with ¨home¨, especially if you don´t return often. You miss out on picking up new slang.
¨U all ready know!!!!!!!¨ ¨You aalllreadddyy!¨
I started hearing those phrases a couple years back when I would go back home for Thanksgiving, or to cover CMJ. I think I´m hearing West Coast cats use ¨Already¨ now. It´s sort of an updated, ¨You better believe it,¨ or as my cornier friends´moms would say, ¨You bet your buns.¨
Along with some of the slang, I feel like I´m missing out on New Jersey´s rap movement. Is it really a ¨movement¨? I don´t think so. You´ll always have inner city hip-hop heads who are good (or not) at rhyming and flowing over beats. There is really a much larger post I could do on N.J. hip-hop talent. Jay-Z knows who they are. Iovine probably does, too.
It´s cool to see Naughty by Nature get up and do some dad rap. But we Jerzy folks know there hasn´t been a true rap superstar for us since Redman. Still, people keep trying to get there. Case in point, the rapper in the pic above: Billy Roadz.
Viewing the rap scene in Newark (I have a lot of work ahead of me, since Youtube — and a chance meeting with Roadz — is the main reference right now) is like looking into the hip-hop scene in Mexico City, D.F. For one, as in D.F., Newark has hundreds of MCs and producers trying to get a piece of the musical pie. Making rap $tar money is a distant reality for all of the rappers in D.F., and most in Newark. Second, it´s a hip-hop scene in the shadows of a larger, more successful one: NYC´s; and in Mexico´s case, the West and Southwest rap scenes. Am I stretching that? Hope not.
The one ingredient in Newark hip-hop is grittiness. All the greats had it, or still do. In the naughts nothing´s shaped Newark more than lackluster Redman albums. And in a city going through enormous changes, with new stadiums, young mayors and a possible visit from Lebron James, one ingredient remains the same: Brick City grit underneath the finger nails and in the flows.
Billy Roadz is only one talent in a pool of rappers who are proving themselves efficient at producing quality material. There´s just no product push at this point. Long gone are the days of selling CDs out of a trunk. But it´s good to see these rappers are intelligent enough to at least have a decent online presence, and pay the right DJs to help get material out. Ever heard of the Kash Addictz? Check Mike Mula´s blog (and on Twitter).