BlackHistoryFacts: Every Place Has a Story to Tell-Early LA Hip Hop


Rich Cason & Formula V

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..

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 eraly 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 where he breaks all this down

Uncle Jamms 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

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.

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

LA Dream Team ‘Rockberry’

Ice T 6 in the Morning..

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

21 comments on “BlackHistoryFacts: Every Place Has a Story to Tell-Early LA Hip Hop

  1. great post.

    surgery, rockberry jam and egypt egypt were the shiznit…

    b-boy crews were driving the ship at this time.

    there was definitely more of a prince influence than a space influence in the LA stuff.

  2. That “Dr. Dre in Surgery” song was the weakest shit I ever heard!!! That’s the first time I ever heard that crap!!! California should have stuck to “lockin”” , movies, and “dressin'” cause they never caught on to the ingredients of “Rap Music”. I’m sorry! Find a cassette tape called “Rapologist Speaks 1994” – that is history and it will teach everyone what is “Rap” and “How it is supposed to be done”. What you hear at the Grammy’s and all that – that ain’t “our” music.

    A little History lesson – thank Ice T and the “Hollywood” movie industry, California….



  4. You all really need to read “The Orign of Rap Music” and listen to a tape called “Rapologist Speaks ’94”, both released in 1994 for a Black History lesson. The history that you will get from those two works alone would put Rap Music/Hip-hop back on track. If they keep giving you the same dirty water to drink and that’s all you know; and you’ve been drinking it since 1989, and we offer you a clean glass of water… – Honorable Elijah Muhammed – Malcolm X Movie

  5. robert, the point is that whether you like or dislike West Coast rap, you can’t deny its place in history. in these days of global hip-hop, with rap music originating out of places like Cuba, Brazil, France and Senegal, it seems petty and small-minded to hate on LA hip-hop, especially for no other reason than hate’s sake.

    and as for this tape and book you keep mentioning, how would i even get a copy if i wanted to check it out?

    ps, it’s interesting that you lash out at the media and then quote from a hollywood film.

  6. pps, robert, when you shout “WE” who are you referring to, exactly? are there other people out there who actually agree with you or do you just have multiple personality disorder?

  7. That was a “Spike Lee Joint” that didn’t win a Hollywood Academy award, e-scribblah. There’s a difference. I quote that because “my” people still drinkingthe dirty water trying to create a history from a genre that has basically been financed to continue “Helping Ignorant People – Hurt Our People” – globaly. The same face you now see on “Terrorrism” is the same face you see in “Hip-hop” and going to prison everyday. Why is that? A thing that’ll make you say – Hmmmmm….. Better read it again, e-scriblah – “WE WILL TELL YOU WHAT IS HISTORY, BECAUSE WE THINK FOR YOU PEOPLE” (HOW – through the televIsion, internet, radio, hip-hop, newspapers, magazine, ect.). I am not a gate-keeper of what Black people are suppose to read, hear, and know, I just tell the truth. You know me, that’s why they once labeled my the “N-word” through “this” site.

  8. hmm, okay, Robert, but you just told us a few posts above that “California…never caught on to the ingredients of “Rap Music”

    maybe i’m misreading here, but it seems like you just dissed an entire state, as well as denied its cultural history as far as creating hip-hop..

    so isn’t that telling us what history is and isnt? in other words, arent you the “WE” you refer to in your post just above?

  9. isnt denial of history and misstatement of facts–elijah muhammad died in 1975, so he couldnt have said that in 1989–the worst kind of historical revisionism?

    i mean you’re literally just making stuff up here–and you claim you’re telling the truth?

    as for catching on to the ingredients of hip-hop, it’s hard to think of any element of hip-hop which wasnt already present on the West when Kool Herc started in 1973.

    maybe we called it boogaloo and NY called it b-boying, but its still a dance-based art form. graffiti in Cali goes back way before even the philadelphia writers of the 1960s, to Chicanos in the 1930s. There were DJs and mobile DJ crews in the west since like forever. Sly Stone was even a DJ, on a black-owned station. and as for MCs, i’d say the Black Panthers and Watts Prophets had a level of influence equivalent to Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets on the East, at least. You had Superfly, we had the Mack. same difference.

    and i can name a few west coast rappers who definitely caught on…too many to name, really, but Too $hort is the most prolific rapper in history, to name one. and i’d take Freestyle Fellowship in their prime over the Fearless Four in theirs…

    since this is black history month, shouldnt we be acknowledging all of our history?

  10. There is “his storyy” and then there is true history. If I take you back to Kemet and the stolen legacy, that’s revisionism on “our part”. If I tell you that Ice T and “Hollywood” put Califormia on the map as as far as Rap Music, and then the gangs and ignorance of the drive-bys, and wet t-shirtss, and boasting of the county jails, pimps, and gang warers just took it to another level, I need to ‘STFU already”. There is “truth” and then there is just blowing smoke up young people’s asses. Don’t ever confuse the “truth” with Hip-hop, because African American people don’t own that and do not control any of the music, videos, or media forms of it. You all really need to contact that radio station in California that were sent a copy of “Rapologist Speaks ’94” back in 1994. People don’t want the true history, they just want to keep things the way they are (“keep it real” – ignorant) and think its cool. What Hip-hop claims as history is normally ignorant stuff – ALL SERIOUSLY.

    I do not deny that Rap History started in the Bronx and Harlem and Sylvia Robinson and Sugar Hill turned it into a musical industry and later on jews took over the industry with record companies, books, movies, magazines, radio, videos, and now the internet. I do not deny that Public enemy confused a lot of young Black kids back in the late ’90’s and then California was allowed to just “Niggerized” a whole nation with N.W.A. See there’s the “Truth” and then there’s just stuff that’s written well to sound good. That ain’t “truth” nor “history”, e-scribllah. That’s all a part of helping ignorant people – hurt our people (Hip-hop). tricks. Its not that the people can’t handle the truth (clean glass of water) either, they just keep getting bombarded with non-sense. Let’s be honest!!!

    My job is not to tell any one what is history, but only to continue to tell my people when they are being fed “BULLSHIT”!!! And I’ve been saying this since 1987, my message has never changed.

  11. Correction – “I do not deny that Public Enemy confused a lot of young Black kids back in the late ’80’s and then California was allowed to just “Niggerize” a whole nation with N.W.A….”

  12. robert, i wish you would take me back to Kemet…

    correcting historical fallacies is not revisionism. i told you to STFU because you reduced the contributions of an entire state (over the last four decades) to your own limited perception.

    i can understand how you might feel ambivalent about NWA and Ice-T, but why would you say PE “confused a lot of young black kids”?

    you criticize Hollywood then quote from a Hollywood movie…

    you say California never got the “ingredients” of rap music–huh?

    if that’s true, then where’d you get yo’ funk from, Bro Robert?

    i’m not here to argue with you, i’m here to point out you’re missing the big picture…

    the fact is that Reaganomics took it to another level, not hip-hop. hip-hop just told you what was going on at the time.

    you speak of the pimp influence, but what about the Panther influence? where do you think that originated out of?

    if you look at the world and see only negatives, what does that say about you?

  13. Early west coast hip-hop was pretty cool with the b-boys,break dancing and electronic uptempo funk. Public Enemy didnt confuse the black kids. Nothing wrong with the black power movement, the Black Panthers,Nation Of Islam idealology in rap music .Just putting knowledge of self in music and it was the right thing to do. Got to wake up our own black people to our own musical history whatever coast it comes from.

  14. What’s wrong with having ideology from black militants in hip-hop music.They’re free to express their views like everyone else and telling the truth about black history doesn’t hurt. Also alot of early west coast music rap music was influenced by funk bands such as, The Bar-Kays ,ZAPP(Roger Troutman and Larry Troutman),George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic.

  15. e-scribblah and FruitofIslam19, your answer to this qusetion written in a book called “The Origin of Rap Music” published in 1994 will determine if in fact you were one of those confused kids back in the late ’80’s – “73) When one of this group’s records is played backwards, who is the guy that reports, ironically, “I got a white girl’?” A) Flavor Flav B) Peter Nice C) M.C. A
    D) Harry Allen. Those who were confused didn’t know that P.E. was a fraud working for jews claimingthey were “followers of Farrakhan… don’t tell me that you understand until you hear the man!” Confused – just look at Flavor, Chuck, and Professor Griff… If you were confused back then, you are probably still are. Rapping, B-boying and break dancing came from the east coast not west. Please watch the special on “Soul Train” – does a historical justice for “California”, if you haven’t seen it.

  16. I’ve been with the Nation of Islam for years, so I’m not confused brother Robert. I know that b-boys,b-girls,breakdancing,graffiti came from the Bronx.DJ Kool Herc is the godfather of hip-hop and help pioneer hip-hop music in the early 1970’s.Hip Hop came from the urban black and latino neighborhoods and ghettos in Bronx,NYC, not the suburbs.Remember all the breakdancing crews back then. The origins of hip hop had nothing to do with gangsterism,pimping,dope dealing etc. All that nonsense happened when crooked white people running record companies started determining whats black culture and some sellout brothers and sisters would sell their soul for fame and money signed on the dotted line.Sheer wickedness of it all.The former slavemasters will never give a damn about the blacks they oppressed for centuries.Mental slavery and self hatred still exists among our black people and it must be destroyed once and for all.Still like the funk bands that influenced early west coast hip hop.Brothers from bands ZAPP(Roger and Larry Troutman,George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic,The Bar-Kays.I believe that what you said is true.The truth does set you free.But its also good to hear other voices in the discussions.

  17. My husband has a tap by Johnson Products Company called Black History Rapology.

    Black History with Run DMC, Kurtis Blow. 1985 Johnson Products Co. Inc.
    Run DMC Recordings 1985 Profile Records, Inc.

    This tape has alot of information regarding Black HIstory and we have never heard it played or available for others to enjoy. Has anyone else heard this wonderful tape and can we find it on any web site.

  18. My husband has a tape by Johnson Products Company called Black History Rapology.
    Black History with Run DMC 1985 Johnson Products Co. Inc.
    Run DMC Recordings 1985 Profile Records, Inc.
    We never heard it played anywhere, radio, internet etc. This song has alot of education of Black History and don’t understand why it has never been released for more exposure. Has anyone else heard this song and does anyone know where it could be found. Would love to have this on a CD before our tape breaks.

Let us know what u think..

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s