Hip-hop fans can argue about the technical merits of Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” but the song’s mega-platinum status in 2009 certainly affirmed the emcee’s status as, in the mainstream’s mind, rap music’s Ambassador to New York City.
At a time in which street corners have been replaced by Twitter and young rappers can be influenced by predecessors from anywhere in the country, what does it mean for a rap artist to represent a city? amNY has taken a look at the map, and come up with a (completely arbitrary and subjective) list of the best rappers to ask that question: The “emcee mayors” of cities across America. In some cases, they’re the best on the mic in their respective hometowns, while the others are simply the most enthusiastic about flying their community’s flag. Either way, they’re the links to a time in hip-hop when representing your block was as important as a chart position.