When it comes to Hip Hop every city has its own pioneers and their own unique special history.. Some of it was influenced by what was going on in New York, a lot of it was homegrown and came to light once things started to bubble up from NY in the early 80s.. In other words, in places like LA and the Bay Area there was already a thriving street dance scene where people were tutting, popping and roboting which had nothing to do with New York.. Funk and later Uptempo dance records were the gems that galvanized people..
Below are some of the first records I recall hearing out of LA back in the early days of LA rap, which I should add was different from the Bay which has its own unique history.. What I liked about LA’s history was many of the artists started off as DJs.. People like Arabian Prince, DJ Unknown, Egyptian Lover, Chris The Glove Taylor, Tony G, Joe Cooley , Julio G, Uncle Jamms Army etc..
It’s important to note that LA Hip Hop history is by no means the totality of West Coast Hip Hop History.. There were simultaneous scenes going on in the Bay Area 400 miles away and in Seattle which is good 1000k miles away during those early days. Each had their own unique origins, pioneers and influences..The sounds were also very different at least in terms of early records.. This is not to say folks in the Bay or Seattle weren’t jamming to early Ice T, Uncle Jamm’s Army or KDAY which because of its AM signal could be heard up and down the coast, but the early sounds coming out of LA represented a vibe, mindset and overall attitude that was unique to that city..
In the video below you see Chris the Glove who produced the cut Wreckless and featured Ice T is shown in this 1983 video along with Egyptian Lover demonstrating deejaying..
A lot of the music in LA’s early Hip Hop days was classified as electrofunk and is often associated with the sound Afrika Bambaataa established with his song Planet Rock. However, when speaking with the early DJs from LA, they say they were already into that sound way before hearing Planet Rock.
Egyptian Lover explained that he was influenced by early Prince and Kraftwerk.. and that he had been deejaying in a crew since the mid 70s.. Folks in LA will recall how Egypt who was part of Uncle Jamms Army used to do huge parties at the LA Coliseum where they would work 4 turn tables at a time which was pretty major back at that time..
Here’s an interview we did with Egypt on Breakdown FM where he breaks all this down:
Below is a more in depth interview done in two parts where Egypt gives a lot more details as to his career and the early LA scene..
Uncle Jamm’s Army ‘Naughty Boy’
Other pioneering figures had already been playing in bands and were producers.. Rich Cason is a one such pioneer. You can’t talk about LA Hip Hop without proppin him up.. He’s a key foundation… The first records I heard from LA that I associated with Hip Hop was Killer Groove by Formula V, Gigiolo Rapp and Bad Times by Captain Rapp were all produced by Cason. His legacy goes way back to the 60s. In fact his group Formula V had been putting out records since 1973.
Killer Groove by Formula V w/ producer Rich Cason
Captain Rapp Bad Times..
Captain Rapp Gigolo Rapp
Arabian Prince who was an original member of NWA is another pioneering figure in LA Hip Hop who was deejaying in a crew since the 70s. He started out as a DJ and later went on to produce. He’s unique in the sense that he was a pioneering figure in Hip Hop’s electro-funk movement as well as pioneering figure in Hip Hop’s gangsta rap movement. A quick look at his track record will show you that he produced landmark tracks for everyone ranging from JJ Fad to Bobby Jimmy and the Critters as well as NWA. Here’s an interview he did with him on Breakdown FM
Tons of things have been written about the World Class Wrecking Crew which was home to Dr Dre… They had a bunch of hit songs and Dre helped elevate the deejay game before he went on to start producing..
Wrecking Crew w/ Dr Dre Surgery
Here are some other early cuts I recall from back in the days..Now please keep in mind this is just a taste of a city that is steeped with stories.. No, we haven’t touched on the dance scene and influence. We haven’t talked about KDAY and the Mixmasters which go back to ’83 and 84.. We haven’t touched on the Good Life or any of that.. This is just a sample.. A great place to go to get some good info on early west coast is my folks from germany who run www.westcoastpioneers.com
Ice T the Coldest Rap Ever.. produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis 1983
Ice T and Chris ‘the Glove’ Taylor‘ Reckless
LA Dream Team ‘Rockberry’
Ice T 6 in the Morning..
As I noted 1580 KDAY was the station that set it off with the Mixmasters..Below is an old aircheck from 86 but there was dope mixes on the radio for years prior not just on KDAY but also KACE and KJLH