Why Is Vado Flying South?

January 28th, 2013

(Photos from left: John Ricard/BET,Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

By Dan Reagans

One can’t realistically blame birds for flying South to warmer climates when the bitter cold creeps into New York around the fall and winter seasons. But what about when New York artists fly South to build up buzz and breakthrough when club/radio support gets frigid. Harlem rapper Vado may be the latest New York MC to migrate to the red-hot Southern hip hop scene as he mulls an offer from DJ Khaled’s We The Best record label.

In a recent interview with Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club, the “The Awards” rapper cleared up some controversy surrounding a few of his tweets suggesting that he might sign with Khaled. After getting out of his Interscope deal, the Harlem spitter revealed that he and other NY rappers like Fabolous have been in awe of the South’s musical presence and influence on club and radio playlist up North.

“One day me and Fab was in Dyckman at this club and we were listening to what they were bumping and it was all French [Montana]. He had them beats that were Southern. He had the club rocking, everybody knew the songs word for word so we was like, ‘Oh this is what it is,’” Vado explained to listeners.

Although aligning with DJ Khaled may be a good move for Vado strategically since the YMCB DJ has coveted relationships with a number of  artists and turntablists, a deeper problem lies behind the need for a migration. Certainly not the first NY rapper to head South of the Mason Dixie to form allegiances, Vado would be joining the likes of Nicki Minaj, French Montana and others. While the South has contributed immensely and rightfully earned a place at the hip hop roundtable, non-regional artists curving their sounds in hopes of gaining club and radio spins is damn near criminal. It’s like New York’s been soft ever since the South came through with those booming 808’s and drum kits.

Without stirring up dust from age old North vs. South arguments, let’s remember first and foremost that rap is all about originality and staying true to one’s self (and sound). Radio and club rotation should not determine the kind of records NY artists make, the streets should.  The streets should and always will be the judge and jury for what does and doesn’t get played on the radio/dance floor. Certified street-only anthems like “Hard In Da Paint” by Waka Flocka and Rick Ross’ “B.M.F.” made it to mainstream rotation because of the streets’ overwhelming response to the material as a whole, not just the sound. People actually could relate to going hard in the paint whether it be in the gym or at work.  NYC rappers  and upstarts should strive to make the biggest record that fans can relate to, not radio ( i.e.: Trinidad James’ “All Gold Everything” or A$AP Rocky’s “Peso”). Don’t make records for radio, make radio come to you.

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