Last week, Nicki Minaj unexpectedly pulled out of performing at Hot97’s Summer Jam festival here in New York. Her reason? A Hot97 DJ named Peter Rosenberg accused Nicki of selling out, peddling faux hip-hop with her crossover hit, Starships. Gender, race, and authenticity were all at stake. But the controversy also involved geography. The controversy pitted a dude from D.C. against a born-and-bred Queens girl. Hot97’s program director even told the New York Times that the station had “supported Ms. Minaj for years, even when her records were not popular, because she’s from Queens.”
This new infographic from A Very [/quote]Small Array reinforces how important turf is in hip-hop, mapping dozens of the industry’s big names onto the five boroughs. Can you separate Wu-Tang Clan from their Staten Island roots, for example? Or Jay-Z, who takes his stage name from the J-M-Z train line he grew up next to in Bed Stuy? Lil’ Mama has said that she found herself through rap as a ‘tween growing up in the city.
The graphic has generated a ton of controversy over on her site (Long Island deserves a look, Busta Rhymes is from Red Hook, etc.), but AVSA’s Dorothy Gambrell tells Co.Design that the idea is to show where rappers spent significant periods of time. “It’s not meant as a map of where rappers are born,” she explains. “It is a map of the neighborhoods where people are from or have spent significant time.”
So, like so many other artists who move to the city to “make it,” many of the biggest names aren’t native New Yorkers. Does it matter?