How would you rank the crews in hip hop right now?
Pete: As far as ranking crews, it's almost a moot point right now. There are no traditional "crews" that we're prevalent during the early '00s (DipSet, G-Unit, etc...) So it's almost impossible to develop some sort of ranking system. Plus, beef is more or less dead (think about it, the biggest 'beef' this year has been Drake / Common, which most likely ended in a pillow fight) so most artists are working together, which is both good and bad. Good because it creates interesting dynamics and fusion of sounds, bad because it has ended competition. When Jay and Nas were battling, it created a serious debate about who the "King of New York" is. Today, all rappers are scared to take that position and fight for it, well, except Papoose. (Wrote this shit a while ago touching on all that.)
Actually, now that I'm thinking about it MMG (Ross, Wale, Meek Millz) probably have the strongest crew right now. Can't believe the jump Ross has made, if you told me he would be this big after "Hustlin'" I would have never believed it. But, he has the game in a headlock right now and it's because of his consistency. Dude is the only rapper to survive a 50 Cent beef and it actually propelled his career. He is proven fraud, but all of that gets swept under the rug because he makes solid music.
What about Kanye West and the guys over at G.O.O.D. Music, any chance that they make a run for the top?
Pete: G.O.O.D. music will never hold that spot cuz Kanye would never let anyone (Pusha T) be better than him, something he undoubtedly learned from Hov. Look at the early Roc-a-Fella days, so many talented artists who just faded into obscurity.
Can Young Money be taken seriously?
Pete: Depends on your variation of serious. Drake / Nicki / Lil Wayne have all gone platinum over the last year, so as far as reach and appeal, absolutely. Nicki is about to make that leap to full fledged pop star a la Katy Perry / Madonna / etc... which will only strengthen their appeal. Musically, I don't really mess with them but they have arguably the three biggest stars in music today so they're not going away anytime soon.
What are some of the up and coming, non-mainstream crews you've been listening to lately?
Pete: Crews out there that aren't necessarily mainstream that I am a fan of are the ASAP crew and the Black Hippy movement. ASAP is riding strong with ASAP Rocky who is their current solo act. Their visuals are awesome and the mixtape they came out with last October still gets knocked on the regular. They got a million dollar plus deal just on the strength of those two music videos. Dudes are from Harlem so they definitely have that brash style in the same vein as the Dips, will definitely be hearing a lot from them over the next year.
Black Hippy are 4 dudes from L.A. who can all spit. It's Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock. Kendrick has been making a lot of noise over the last year--and for good reason, dude can really rap. Schoolboy Q is good too, a lot more hardcore and fucks heavily with ASAP. Expect to hear a lot from them as well.
I'm really fucking with this dude Action Bronson. Just peep his debut "Dr. Lecter" and all his youtube videos--guy is insane and can rap his ass off.
With the advancement of the internet it's become easier to make a name for yourself and build a fan base all on your own. Do you think that being "independent" as a young rapper is the move these days?
Pete: Independent is definitely the way to go. All rappers should follow the Wiz Khalifa / Mac Miller model. Build your fan base, drop solid releases, tour endlessly and then when you're about to peak, sign to a major and get paid. I don't know why anyone would do it differently.
Follow Pete on Twitter (@goinginsquad)