It’s a question that has been igniting arguments for decades. Who is the King of New York?
Twenty-five years after heated discussions about artists like JAY-Z, Nas, and Biggie broke out across the five boroughs and beyond, the debate continues today. A new generation of artists are jockeying to wear the crown in the city that birthed rap. And, as we head into the summer of 2020, the conversation is wide open. There is no unanimously agreed-upon King, but there are plenty of contenders.
Gassed up by his record-breaking return from incarceration, 6ix9ine is claiming the throne is his because he’s putting up bigger numbers than anyone else, but many argue that, when he testified against his former Nine Trey members, he lost the credibility and respect required to be a true king. Meanwhile, Bronx artists like A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Lil Tjay have leaned into a melodic style, and built massive followings in the process. In Brooklyn, there are plenty of drill rappers, like Fivio Foreign and Sheff G, who are also eyeing the throne. And you can’t count out veteran artists like JAY-Z, Nicki Minaj, ASAP Rocky, and Cardi B, who have put in years of work to establish themselves as fixtures in New York rap.
So, as we near the midway point of 2020, who runs New York? And what does this say about the current state of rap in the city? Does the throne still matter at all? Members of the Complex editorial staff were asked each of these three questions. Their answers are below. Let the debate begin.