Five essential songs from Philly hip-hop collective State Property
With his prison reform campaign and a new album, Meek Mill has the city in the palm of his hands. But to be frank, Meek wouldn’t be where he is now without the forefathers of Philly hip-hop: State Property.
The collective formed in 2000 with members Freeway, Beenie Siegel Peedi Peedi, Oschino, and Omillio Sparks, and the Young Gunz (Young Chris and Neef Buck), many of whom went on to successful solo careers. State Property was a movement: in addition to multiple chart-topping songs, the collective had two movies and a clothing line to their name. Simply put, State Property is legendary — and they’re back on the local stage this weekend.
On Sunday, December 23rd, a reunited State Property headlines The Fillmore Philadelphia in Fishtown. If you are new to Philly and never experienced local hip-hop in its heyday, or if you’ve been around and just need a reminder of how great this concert is going to be, read on for an overview of the essential State Property — and get tickets and more information on the show via the XPN Concert Calendar.
“Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”
Chris and Neef were only the tender age of 21 when they released “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”. The song, which charted at number 14 on Billboard, features minimalist drums, flirty lyrics and a smooth delivery that made it a favorite among Philly youth. The duo perfected the tag team rap style but could still hold their own standing alone. “Can’t stop, won’t stop, Rocafella records / cause we, we get down baby, we get down baby. / The girls, the girls, they love us cause we stay / fresh to death, we the best nothing less.” All facts: they were young, fresh-faced, and the women loved them.
“What We Do”
Philly is a blue collar city. We all know this by now. We’re gritty, we hustle, we do what we gotta do to make shit happen. Freeway is no different as he proves on “What We Do.” The song is a testament to what many have to do to stay above water in the City of Brotherly Love. Freeway offers so many visceral quotes from “If my kids hungry, snatch the dishes out ya kitchen,” to “If my sneaks start leanin’ and’ the heat stop workin’ / then my heat start workin’, I’ma rob me a person. / Catch a nigga sleepin’ while he out in the open.” With “What We Do,” Freeway acknowledges that what some have to do in order to survive may not be the best option, but sometimes it is the only option. This is an anthem for the have-nots, so if you’ve been through it, it resonates.
“Roc Da Mic”
I am not sure if there has been another song with more basketball jerseys, fitted caps, and skullies in the same music video. It makes sense for 2002, when Freeway and Beans released “Roc Da Mic.” The song is a clear representation of the lyrical prowess of the two. Although the track only reached number 55 in the Billboard 100 the amount of radio play it received on Power 99 cemented the song as yet another Philly classic.
“I Gotta Have It”
Beanie went off on this beat: his flow is much more technical and energetic than any other songs on this list. But frankly, the showstopper is Peedi Crakk. The Puerto Rican rapper from North Philly has a singsong flow that is a perfect compliment to the swing-style beat. The whole vibe of the song is like a game of tag with multiple crescendos frequent accelerations and decelerations in the tempo of flows.
This list was in no particular order, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t save the best for last. This time it’s Freeway who teams up with Peedi Crakk for the reigning Philly anthem (yes, even more so than “Dream and Nightmares”). The video is iconic – if you were born in Philly, you might be able to spot a grandmother or auntie. It’s filmed on various back blocks in the city and features cameos by Jay Z and Dame Dash. The song starts with Peedi screaming “OOOOOOHHHHHHH, now clap for me mami,” followed by a few lines in Spanish. If you are in the club when you hear this, just know shit is about to get real. The beat features Just Blaze’s signature wolfing 808’s which are perfect for driving down any Philly sidestreet with your bass turned up to the max.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, State Property is for the heat of Philadelphia, not the high rises, nor the debates about regional slang, or cheesesteaks from the Italian Market. State Property is for the people.