The Round of 64 for Sound of the City’s own version of March Madness—in which we determine the quintessential New York musician—launches this morning with a series of polls. Up first: Harlem’s quintessential hip-hop cadre, Dipset, takes on the genre’s megamogul, Diddy. Check out the arguments in favor of each contestant below, and then cast your ballot on Facebook.
The Diplomats (a.k.a. Dipset) are Harlem’s quintessential hip-hop cadre. The rag-tag group of childhood friends—Cam’ron, Jim Jones and Freekey Zekey and Juelz Santana—released Diplomatic Immunity in 2003 and gained a cult-like following with memorable non sequiturs (“Golly I’m gully, look at his galoshes”) over hard-hitting beats from Just Blaze and Heatmakerz, while their inherent penchant for Harlem and ostentatious motor cycle chic created a veritable regional movement (the likes of which have been largely unseen in NYC hip-hop thereafter). Dipset’s sophomore effort, 2004’s Diplomatic Immunity 2, included new, somewhat unmemorable members and dissensions between Cam’ron and Jones soon put the collective on sabbatical. Following a reconciliation in 2010, the Dips have launched a reunion tour and are said to be cooking up new musical goodness.
Diddy invented rap—or at least the template for the last two decades of hip-hop music that has topped the charts. In discovering The Notorious B.I.G., the uptown mogul showed the world how to turn street-corner rhymers into superstars (“from ashy to classy,” as Big himself put it); without Diddy’s puppet-mastering, Biggie would have been mired making indie rap songs with R.A. The Rugged Man and Spunk Bigga. The Diddster also cast Mary J. Blige as the queen of hip-hop soul, uniting the rap and r&b scenes into cozy bed-fellows along the way. And while Diddy might not be the fleetest of tongue himself, he has an ear for brilliantly populist production and still ad libs better than most rappers write rhymes.