Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s hip-hop roots run deep. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA once called the Steel City home, and mid-1990s Death Row Records MC/producer Sam Sneed held the city down as did Dr. Dre’s production affiliate Mel-Man. Still, when Wiz Khalifa put the ’Burgh on his back with his 2010 hometown ode “Black & Yellow,” the city had officially arrived as a hip-hop hot spot.
“Everybody’s hardworking and it’s not like a big music scene out there, so when you got somethin’, you just go with it,” emerging Pittsburgh MC Chevy Woods said in a December interview. “Everybody sees the light that shines on [Khalifa] and Mac [Miller] and now it’s trickling down to everybody else.”
After Wiz blew the doors off, Mac Miller came next. Though both rappers are signed to Rostrum Records, a local label, they came up separately. Khalifa has his Taylor Gang crew, while Miller has the Most Dope collective.
“With the music, it’s a whole new avenue we done opened up for kids and for people to look up to,” Khalifa said of how he helped shine a spotlight on the ’Burgh, paving the way for future MCs. “It’s a reality now out there, so it’s really important for us to just embrace ’em and motivate ’em and push ’em forward.”
As a kid, Wiz moved around a bit but began to call the ’Burgh home at an early age — particularly the rough-and-tumble Hazelwood section. “You really won’t get it if you’re not from there,” Wiz said of his hometown. “Just growing up in Pittsburgh and knowing different neighborhoods, having family there and just loving it, it’s like no other place.”
As far as Pennsylvania goes, Philadelphia has churned out the most rap talent. From Schoolly D to Will Smith to Beanie Sigel’s State Property and now Maybach Music’s Meek Mill, Philly has had no shortage of rap representation. While they sit within the same state lines, Pittsburgh and Illadelph couldn’t be more different.
“We always had love for Philly. It was harder for Philly to embrace us because we’re a little bit slower to them or to more East Coast towns,” Wiz said. “Philly is more East Coast than Pittsburgh. It’s closer to New Jersey and New York, so the vibe is way more fast-paced. Pittsburgh, it’s just laid-back … Midwest almost on some country stuff.”
Stick with MTV News all week as Mac Miller takes us back to the ’Burgh and spotlights the city’s vibrant hip-hop scene. Then tune in to “RapFix Live” on Wednesday at 4 p.m. on MTV.com for exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from Mac’s hometown shows.