Queens rapper Bryant Dope is about to drop his New New York mixtape via Young One Records later this year and here’s a taste of what’s to come with his Max Goodrich-directed, day-in-the-life video for “QB.” Of the clip for the Hannibal King-produced cut, Dope says, “[it] follows my everyday life from working at Belief, a local skateshop in Queens to hitting the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn, [as well as] to a show I had at the Mercury Lounge earlier this year. [It’s] a visual depection of the life of a young rapper in New York trying to make a name for himself.” Dope’s contemporaries like Worlds Fair, Heems (formerly of Das Racist), and Mr. MNF eXquire are carving out a new space for the New York rap underground. Their music is advancing the narrative and putting a new spin on the meaty history that laid the tracks for them growing up. With eX, you see Biggie’s penchant for vocabulary-laden, storytelling mouthfuls, but beat choices that lean toward the lugubrious side of modern rap. Nary a Worlds Fair track goes by without a nod to Queens or a hometown sports reference — seriously, if they don’t drop the “What Up Gangsta?”-interpolating “96 Knicks” soon I’m going to have an aneurysm — and both Heems and partner-in-crime producer Mike Finito have catapulted El-P ethos into a hypergeeky territory. It’s no wonder they’re all friends.
Still, there’s a cavalcade of arguments to be made about whether New York is ostensibly back on the rap map after being supplanted by the rest of the country. Are A$AP Rocky and French Montana hamfisting the charge? Or does the gurgling underground — of which I will contentiously say certain corners were illuminated by the indie popularity of Das Racist (whether they or Killer Mike gave spotlight to El for a new group of listeners is a fun conversation to have because everyone’s a winner) — mean more to the movement than the dudes on the majors? Maybe New York will never claim its old prominence. As a native, I’m not entirely bothered because if we’re considering the Internet a region, then my other hometown has a lot of Ws under it belt. I’m just glad that any given night of the week, I can go out to one of the many venues in town and see guys like Bryant Dope or Le1f rep their city. Check out “QB” below.