It’s easy to guess why TVT would start pushing Oakland’s hyphy style after the label’s success with Southern crunk—both styles share big synth lines, thudding stripper-friendly beats, and a general ig’nance. But where crunk gets over on raw, balls-out energy, hyphy rappers frequently sound enervated, exhaling at the end of each line like rhyming really takes it out of ’em. The music’s often surprising, too—sneaky little noises highlight otherwise minimal (though compelling) beats. Lyrically, hyphy rappers stick to the basics: chromed-out cars, high-potency weed, loose women, and partying with all of the above, in addition to boasts regarding the dopeness of the rapper(s) in question (actual auditory evidence of dopeness optional). There’s room for some truly cartoonish voices, though: Keak Da Sneak sounds like an Adult Swim parody of an insane rapper, and one of the members of the
Federation is straight-up imitating Full Force’s Bowlegged Lou from the
House Party movies. Indeed, high-pitched voices seem to be a hyphy mini-trend by themselves, though not everybody can make it work: Twisted Black is a second-rate Snoop clone, and Mac Dre sounds like Rockwell without the phony British accent. This overall cartoonishness sets the stage for “Stewy,” performed by a crew of actual little kids called D.B.’z (plus genre ambassador E-40). They could be 2007’s Another Bad Creation, and hyphy could be 2007’s party soundtrack, depending on how little you demand of your lyricists.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 9, 2007