Will You '90s Babies Shut Up and Admit Rap Was 100 Times Better in the '90s?

Regional styles developed independently and weren't treated like trends

Regional stars still exist. But rap's provincianalism back in the '80s and '90s meant that distinct differences, production styles and dialects developed independently. Artists, reliant on hand-to-hand promotion, performances and word-of-mouth success, built their careers appealing to local audiences—and that meant that their sounds were driven by the communities they came from. While this kind of regional success still occurs, individual regional sounds are rarer than ever. First, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and resulting radio consolidation made for narrower radio playlists. Then the Internet came along, and the remaining below-the-radar scenes were blown up nationally; artists now connected with an online fanbase immediately. This new, post-regional rap treated retro-regional sounds as raw material to be reappropriated. The feedback loop between a regional fanbase and the artist, with a few extreme exceptions, was broken.

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