Even more than Silicon Valley, Miami embodies the central technological myth of our time – that nature can not only be tamed but made irrelevant. Miami was a mosquito-and-crocodile-filled swampland for thousands of years, virtually uninhabited until the late 1800s. Then developers arrived, canals were dug, swamps were drained, and a city emerged that was unlike any other place on the planet, an edge-of-the-world, air-conditioned dreamland of sunshine and beaches and drugs and money; Jan Nijman, the former director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Miami, called 20th-century Miami “a citadel of fantastical consumption.” Floods would come and go and hurricanes might blow through, but the city would survive, if only because no one could imagine a force more powerful than human ingenuity. That defiance of nature – the sense that the rules don’t apply here – gave the city its great energy. But it is also what will cause its demise.
You DO realize that Kanye West is the King of Chicago rap, right? You’re not going to bitch and moan about minor trivialities, right? “Oh, well he doesn’t live here anymore!” What are you, high? The conflict, the shit-talking, the willingness to speak his mind about damn near anything you can have an opinion on, the sense of humor, the transparent aspiration to do more and do it better. Hell, the man IS Chicago.
Ernest Wilkins, “The King of the City: The Best Rapper in 13 Hip-Hop Meccas,” Complex, August 28, 2013
This whole article is great. I also enjoy Jeff Weiss on L.A.:
With last October’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick achieved a unanimous municipal appeal unseen since 2Pac. A punk friend told me that he was all she listened to in her car—same with her hardcore friends. At the grocery store, a black woman in a head wrap and floral print dress overheard me talking about Kendrick’s verse on “Control.”
“I just love Kendrick,” she interrupted with the enthusiasm of someone who hadn’t liked a young rapper in a long time. “He’s so talented, but he’s so humble.”
Humble is the last word I’d use to describe someone who issued one of the most brazen West Coast proclamations since Snoop came through and crushed the buildings. But this contradiction illustrates the depth of Kendrick’s appeal. You rarely sense that you know him personally, but you feel like you understand and relate. His opinions are open to interpretation, but the characters and themes are clear and three-dimensional. Like 2Pac, Kendrick is a vessel for many to project their dreams, politics, and personality quirks.
And Willy Staley on E-40 and the Bay Area:
At he settles into middle age, at 46 years old, it might seem an odd time to crown Earl “E-40” Stevens the King of the Bay. But then again, Jerry Brown, the governor of California — a place more associated with youth and vigor than, say, Michigan — is 75. The parallels between 40’s career and Brown’s are worth pointing out. They were promising as youngsters, rising through the ranks of their respective establishments through pluck and verve. In the mid-aughts, both men—neither originally from Oakland — decided they would try to become that city’s mayor. Brown did so officially, and succeeded. E-40 tried to do it with stripped-down Lil Jon beats and failed, possibly deflating the whole ascendant Bay Area scene with it — but not before countless Volvos had rolled driverless down suburban blocks from Vallejo to Maine, much to the delight of a nation new to YouTube.