“I’m from where the hammer’s rung/News cameras never come/You and your man’s hung in every verse in your rhyme where the grams is slung.” —Jay-Z, “Where I’m From.” Such complex portraits of Brooklyn pepper Jigga’s catalog. And much like the proud Marcy-bred MC, rappers can’t quit boasting about the city that made them. Even with the Internet pretty much abolishing borders, hometown pride still runs ratchet (see: Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow”), with artists vying for a spot on the hip-hop Google Map. Here, VIBE ranks the cities that have played the most crucial role in the culture, whether through historical impact, mammoth movements, a bustling underground scene or the rappers who lay their heads there. Rep yo set!
Compiled by Tanya Tien Chen, Johnathan Cruse, Clover Hope, John Kennedy, Stephanie Long, Niki McGloster, Iyana Robertson