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The Southern United States has always fascinated me — music-wise, that is. As an East Coast baby (shout-out to my kik username), I was raised on a healthy diet of Wu-Tang, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest with sprinklings of Tupac and Dr. Dre. The first Southern artist that truly snagged my attention was Young Thug, who hails from the Sylvan Hills (referred to as Zone 3) neighborhood of Atlanta. His 2015 mixtape Slime Season drew me in with its melodic beats. In addition, Young Thug’s eclectic delivery paired with his poetic lyrics made me hungry for the knowledge of what down South had to offer.
While doing a deep dive into the genre, I came across this video from the 1995 Source awards.
During the height of the East vs. West Coast beef, Atlanta artists Outkast won the Source Award for Best New Artist, adding more tension to the night . Amid booing from a crowd, Andre 3000 delivered a famous quip: “But it’s like this though — I’m tired of them closed minded folks, it’s like we gotta demo tape but don’t nobody wants to hear it. But it’s like this: the South got something to say, that’s all I got to say.”
This quote inspired this week’s playlist, 14 Beats: Dirty South. Coined for the nickname that encompasses the region, this playlist is full of pimping, testimonies of hood s***, and lyricism for days. Within the mix, you’ll hear party classics (Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up”), slick and slowed pimp tracks (“Sittin Sideways” by Paul Wall, and even religious experiences (Outkast’s “Babylon”). While these artists are from different states throughout the region, they blend together immersing the listener into the diverse sound that comes from their collective voices. Bar for bar, stories unfold over samples, loud drums, slowed and smooth vocals. The music is full of life, and even the album covers exude a theatrical energy that adds to the ambiance of the sound. Up on the docket this week are:
“Shake It Like A Dog” — Kane & Abel
This song is guaranteed to have you up and moving. Repping New Orleans and No Limit Records, Kane & Abel’s track is reminiscent of the bounce music that the region is famous for.
“Back That Azz Up” — Juvenile, Lil Wayne, Mannie Fresh
I have seen (and participated) in many a rush to the dance floor for this song. Hearing “Cash Money Records takin’ over for the ‘99 and the 2000s” in a public place having a rush of adrenaline is a feeling that I miss from the pre-COVID-19 world. The string section on this song is the stuff of legend, so much that Mannie Fresh recreated it with a live string band in 2018. This song also made bounce a nationwide phenomenon.
“Take It To Da House” — Trick Daddy and Trina
“Take It To Da House” samples “Boogie Shoes” by K.C and The Sunshine Band. Layering it with a drum loop from James Brown’s “The Boss,” Trick Daddy and Trina go tit-for-tat in this amped up Miami bass track.
“Take Da Charge” — Project Pat
“Take Da Charge” samples Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s “The Closer I Get To You,”flipping it the slow and deep Houston hip-hop sound.
“Still Tippin” — Mike Jones, Paul Wall, and Slim Thug
On “Still Tippin,” three H-Town heavyweights bust out bars over a slick beat, carrying the vibe from “Take Da Charge.”
“Babylon” — Outkast
“Babylon” is a more testimonial track and it showcases a side of the diverse Atlanta hip-hop sound. Big Boi and Andre 3000’s verses reveal their own personal struggles over a mellow backing instrumental.
“Int’l Players Anthem” — UGK, Outkast
A quintessential pimp track, “International Players Anthem” unites Houston and Atlanta under the banner of two of their greatest groups: UGK and Outkast. Flipping the Willie Hutch song “I Choose You,” this song operates on a legendary level of storytelling that is showcased in the iconic music video.
“Sittin Sideways” — Paul Wall, Big Pokey
“Sittin Sideways” is one of my absolute favorite songs. Paul Wall quite literally rides the beat and makes you feel as if you’re leaning out of the old-school Impala that he raps about in the song.
“Poppin My Collar” — Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat
“Poppin My Collar” is a collab between Memphis group Three 6 Mafia and Project Pat. This upbeat song just forces you into a feeling of cockiness and is a match made in Dirty South Heaven.
“Space Age Pimpin” — 8Ball & MJG
“Space Age Pimpin” is reminiscent of 1970s funk, transcending generations to carry a seductive vibe throughout the song.
Down For My N*****s — C-Murder, Magic, Snoop Dogg
“Down For My N*****s” is an interesting intersection of West Coast and Southern hip-hop. Snoop Dogg acrimoniously split from Death Row Records and signed with New Orleans label No Limit, uniting with C-Murder and gifting us with this hard-hitting track about camaraderie.
“Knuck If You Buck” — Crime Mob, Lil Scrappy
No matter where I’m at, if “Knuck If You Buck” comes on, my first thought is “CLEAR THE FLOOR!” because people are about to start throwing ‘bows and going crazy. You wanna see a fight at a function? Turn on “Knuck If You Buck” and watch fireworks happen.
“What’s Your Fantasy” — Ludacris, Shawnna
Shawnna’s presence on the chorus of this raunchy Luda track gives this song an extra oomph, working to boost the bold lyrics that Ludacris employs on “What’s Your Fantasy.”
“A Milli” — Lil Wayne
“A Milli” is the perfect song to end this playlist on. Lil Wayne delivers an unrelenting verbal assault. Twisting through metaphors and pop culture shout outs, Weezy delivers one of the most impressive twenty-first century rap performances, period.
As you enjoy this week’s mix, please do not ignore the violence occurring in Palestine at the hands of the Israeli government. Within the global struggle for freedom of colonized people, please be sure to educate yourself on the history of the oppression of Palestinians and donate to the Islamic Relief Palestinian Fund, as well as sharing the journalistic works of those on the ground reporting in Palestine, accessible through Twitter.
Header image by Jake Runnion