When you live in the birthplace of gangster rap, it’s hard to sit and ignore it for so long. A few years back now I was working for a guy who cared more about money than artistry. It was an awful job and I ended up quitting while simultaneously getting fired. While it sucked to be out of some pay every couple of weeks, it did open my eyes to the plethora of emcees that were brewing in the city of Los Angeles. With that horrendous man, we covered all genres, but rap was something new to me. Even today, I wouldn’t call myself an expert or by no means a fan who’d head out to see a Kendrick Lamar show anytime soon, but again – when you live in the birthplace of one of the most influential styles of music in recent decades – you have to pay your respects. That’s when the idea of this monthly feature came to mind. I’d met and connected with a number of rappers in the LA and Orange Country area with that job, and wanted to shine a light on each and every one of them. So once a month from here on out we’ll get to know a local emcee. Trust, I follow a handful of them on good old Instagram and these guys and gals work extremely hard. Some are parents pulling double duty like Young Kasper, others are in time going to dominate the world like Gavlyn.
Rap had been around for some time before it made its way out west and got labeled “gangster.” Today there’s a broader umbrella and it’s now longer a coastal battle, but a billion dollar industry. After a decade of the Material Girl and glam metal, the charts started to shift a bit towards this angst ridden music. For young white kids, it was grunge but for those in more urban areas, the sounds of N.W.A started to make their way into the walkmans of those young ears and it didn’t take long for them to connect to that on a deep level. It wasn’t this catchy, we’re all here to have fun music. Ice Cube and Co. created music that resonated with the realities of urban America and the struggles they faced on a day to day. Over time rap evolved, like all music does and today it’s quite different, but more or less hip hop is still one of the most popular styles out there making waves. A recent study even said hip hop as a whole had more of a cultural effect on pop culture than The Beatles, which makes sense. Hip hop is more than music, it’s a lifestyle, fashion, a way of life.
In the coming weeks we’ll take a look at local rappers who are working hard to make their presence known and over time you’ll see that, as Tupac once said, California knows how to party.