It’s been a rough couple of years for New York Hip-Hop. Yeah, Jay-Z & Raekwon may have done some decent numbers considering the current climate in the record industry, but recent albums from Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Fabolous, Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Capone & Noreaga weren’t up to the artists usual standards and while the latest from Nas, 50 Cent, Cam’ron, Maino, have gotten praise from critics and fans, they still sold way less albums then expected, especially considering the amount of buzz they had and the attention they received from the rap media. Add that with the fact that the industry has seemingly stopped pushing new acts from New York in favor of signing one hit wonder/ringtone rap acts, Southern rappers (they seem to be all the rage these days) or dumbed down production driven music that will get spins on the radio today but will be irrelevant next month (C-O-N-spiracy?) and you begin to see why New York rap is in such an abysmal state. But the blame doesn’t fall squarely on the labels, the radio or the fans of Southern Hip-Hop. The young rappers from New York who actually have talent are mostly clueless as to what it means to be actual artists and the OG’s are usually too concerned with their own thing to provide the proper guidance, if any at all. This usually results in new rappers putting out music that panders to the radio and is so concerned with getting love outta town, it lacks any kind of identity. If you can’t connect with the people where you’re from and get hot in your own hood, you can’t expect people to feel you anywhere else.
That’s where Harlem’s Vado comes in.
Starting out as 1/3 of the SWAT Team (A Harlem rap crew which included future Young Money member Jae Millz), these days Vado is Cam’ron’s latest protege, a member of his new crew, The U.N., and has been featured on most of Cam’s music post Crime Pays, including both of his Gangsta Grillz – Boss Of All Bosses mixtapes with DJ Drama. Both mixtapes received alot of praise from the “streets” and the internet and while Cam gave fans something to cheer about after a somewhat lukewarm response to Crime Pays (an underrated effort in my opinion), Vado holds his own beside his mentor and at times, carries more then his share of the weight. Songs like “By All Means”, “Talk To Em” & “Stop It 5“ quickly made this rookie one to watch. I’ve heard some say he reminds them of a young Shyne, but trust that resemblance is only physical (Especially since nowadays Shyne sounds like he spent his bid gargling steel wool). I suppose the most obvious rapper to compare Vado to would be Cam’s OTHER protege, Juelz Santana. Both are Harlem bred MC’s raised in the Big L/Mase/Cam’ron school of rap, so you know the flashy bars and slick punchlines are in place but while they do share a few similarities in content & flow, Juelz ‘s has more of a pop appeal and his natural charisma (a.k.a. “Swag”) takes the edge off a lot of his tough talk. Vado on the other hand, manages to deliver his punchlines straight faced, without losing any of the menace.
But the main thing that draws me to Vado is the way he draws inspiration from his hometown. Son style is so Uptown, so Harlem, and he wears his hood on his chest like a badge of honor. The slang, the beats he’s choosing, the way he puts his bars together, there’s no confusion about where he’s from, it’s distinctly New York. Just like with Juelz, Cam’s willingness to put ego to the side and use his star power to establish a new talent is paying dividends. Dude was thiiis close to making my Class Of 2010 list, but I felt that at the time he was still very much in Cam’s shadow and hadn’t put out enough solo work to warrant a nod. But with Boss Of All Bosses 2.5 and two albums with The U.N. on the horizon, Vado has made moves to put himself squarely in the spotlight and these first two looks off of his upcoming mixtape Slime Flu, the young’un is making XXL look crazy for leaving him off the Freshmen 2010 list.
I’ve been hyping son (I’m from Harlem, so it’s only right) but I’m putting my official stamp on it right now. I’m co-signing Vado, not just because he’s from Uptown, but because dude is one of few rap acts out of New York who’s making East Coast Hip-Hop without compromise. And it’s working.
I just hope Cam & Jimmy’s recent pow wow doesn’t take any focus off of Vado’s come up.
Props to The Smoking Section for the MP3′s.