G-Side: Whose World Is It Now?

G-Side; credit: 30 Pack i i

G-Side remakes a Nas classic and proves that there's a thin line between Queensbridge and Huntsville, Ala. 30 Pack hide caption

itoggle caption 30 Pack
G-Side; credit: 30 Pack

G-Side remakes a Nas classic and proves that there's a thin line between Queensbridge and Huntsville, Ala.

30 Pack

Monday's Pick

  • Artist: G-Side
  • Song: "Who's Hood?"
  • CD: Huntsville International Mixtape
  • Genre: Hip-Hop

Every day for the next two weeks, Song of the Day will showcase a track by an artist playing the South by Southwest music festival. For NPR Music's full coverage of SXSW — complete with full-length concerts, studio sessions, blogs, Twitter feeds, video and more — click here. And don't miss our continuous six-and-a-half-hour playlist, The Austin 100, which features much more of the best music the festival has to offer.

Illmatic, Nas' 1994 paean to and from New York's Queensbridge projects, is considered by many to be the pinnacle of hip-hop — its Sgt. Pepper's or Citizen Kane. So it'd be an understatement to say that the Huntsville, Ala., duo G-Side was sticking its neck out when it decided to remake the emotional centerpiece of that album, "The World Is Yours." But in "Who's Hood?" G-Side does justice to the original, proving that the line between the largest housing project in the country and the fourth largest city in Alabama is surprisingly thin.

G-Side's in-house producers in Block Beattaz change up the classic by borrowing the same iconic piano loop from Ahmad Jamal, but they replace Pete Rock's soft-filtered samples with mechanical 808 drum kicks (drums are often where hip-hop draws its Mason-Dixon Line). Fellow Alabamian guest Yelawolf twists up syllables and plays close to the tone of Nas' nostalgic self-loathing, aiming Krylon cans at the Bible Belt instead of guns at baby pictures, but G-Siders ST and Clova cast a wider net. When he was recording Illmatic, Nas was the most buzzed-about rapper on the planet. He had a major recording contract, and his idea of grandiose was Dom P and a Gandhi VHS. G-Side is a virtual unknown, and it's already thinking internationally. "You can't run the corners from the corners," as ST puts it. To Nas, the corners made up the entirety of his world. G-Side's members might run their 'hood, but they also see the whole world from those confines.

Listen to yesterday's Song of the Day, and subscribe to the Song of the Day newsletter.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.