Hip Hop 101: Every City Has a History-Here’s Early LA Hip Hop

Rich Cason & FormulaV

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..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj8hPyIAKfU

EgyptianLoverA 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..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85xqcGgc4a4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tSheNRTs-c

Uncle Jamm’s Army ‘Naughty Boy’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3IGJAVtMZQ

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 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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDo1DqolHOg

Ice T and Chris ‘the Glove’ Taylor‘ Reckless

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mc3pTmiCHI

LA Dream Team ‘Rockberry’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KElKcfgzN5I

Ice T 6 in the Morning..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka0yBdZh46E

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80-d8vreH4Q

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Hip Hop Loses a Key West Coast Pioneer.. RIP Roger Clayton of Uncle Jamms Army

 

RIP Roger Clayton

 

Just got word this morning that yesterday one of the key architects  and pillars for West Coast Hip Hop passed away.. We’re talking about Roger Clayton aka Mr Prinze of the pioneering legendary crew Uncle Jamms Army. This is the 4th pioneering figure the West Coast has lost in the past few years. It was just last week folks buried Danny ‘Fut’ James who ran the influential Impact Record pool dating back to 1982. We lost Michael Mixxing Moore and  Skeeter Rabbit within a month of each other 2 years ago. We also lost Mixmaster Spade. Here in the Bay we just lost Mr Fantastic aka Melvin to a heart attack. It’s a shame that these important figures were never honored before their passing outside of LA.

Losing Clayton is major. It like losing one of NY’s main architects for this culture. It would be like NY losing Afrika Bambaataa.. Not only did Clayton and Uncle Jamms Army bring a unique West Coast sound and style to the game, because they were also party promoters who did those legendary dances at the LA Sports Arena, they were also responsible for turning LA folks onto the emerging rap from NY..They used to also bring out acts like Run DMC, Kurtis Blow and LL Cool J to name a few..

One of the things I think has never truly been appreciated and acknowledged about West Coast Hip Hop was the Mobile DJ Culture that was its cornerstone.. Many like to think that folks out here picked up the game from New York. Such is not the case. Cats were hustling and doing jams with massive sound systems all throughout the 70s.. from LA to the Bay it was not usual to see DJ crews with comic book cartoon like names. In the case of Uncle Jamms Army they were inspired by Parliament and George Clinton.. Their roots were funk music and the crew included legendary folks like Bobcat, Egyptian Lover, DJ Pooh. Battle Cat, Joe Coooly, Chris the Glove, Alonzo Williams and the groups only female member Silky D. Before Uncle Jamms Army  there was an earlier crew formed in 1978 called Unique Dreams Entertainment which included Clayton and childhood friend Gid Martin.

These cats early one were known for rocking 4 turntables at a time and mixing records flawlessly while executing what eventually became known as LA’s fast scratch. Uncle Jamms army proceeded the Beat Junkies, KDAY Mixmasters and other better known West Coast DJ Crews.. These were the architects.

As Clayton’s partner Egyptian Lover once explained to me, they had been listening to Prince, Kraftwerk and Parliament and that’s what got them off and running.. Later on they came upon what was cracking in New York and naturally incorporated it and upheld it..The fact that Uncle Jamms Army was able to pull off these massive parties from all over a gang infested city and keep the peace needs to be celebrated the same way we look at the early Kool Herc and Bambaataa parties as being able to do the same thing..

The fact that Clayton and Fut died within a month of each other should not be lost of folks.. Fut with his record pool was main reason  folks in LA introduced to music from all over.. Fut was the supplier, Clayton was the presenter.They will be missed..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kLY747G1pQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3IGJAVtMZQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s0V4YnKhFk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y3rUl7KAjc

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

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

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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

http://odeo.com/episodes/25600751-An-Interview-w-West-Coast-Pioneer-Egyptian-Lover

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. http://odeo.com/episodes/25600777-Interview-w-Original-NWA-Arabian-Prince

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

LA Dream Team ‘Rockberry’

Ice T 6 in the Morning..

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner