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

Some Memorable Hip Hop Songs That Address the Issue of Gun Violence

stop the violenceWith much of our attention focused on the gun debate, Newtown, Ct and NRA (National Rifle Association) head Wayne Lapierre talking about how music, movies and video games have caused gun violence, many of us are also talking and asking hard questions.

Earlier today I was asking myself which rap artists would seize the moment and put out compelling music around the gun debate issue.. When I asked this publicly I got a lot of cynical responses, noting that rappers work for an industry that is violent prone and would discourage such efforts.. I don’t buy it. Folks in Hip Hop from day one have long spoke out against violence.

From the days of Afrika Bambaataa doing community center dances in Bronx River projects to promote peace in the early 70s to The Hip Hop Peace Summit w/ the Nation of Islam in the 1997 to Oakland rapper T-Kash running a marathon a couple of years ago to bring an end to gun violence.

In between we had KRS-One launching a Stop the Violence Movement with the Urban League which was accentuated with his landmark song Stop the Violence. In 2001 KRS went to the United Nations to unveil recently the Hip Hop Declaration of Peace.

We had songs like Self Destruction which was a famed posse cut led by KRS-One featuring everyone from MC Lyte to Kool Moe Dee to Ms Melody, D-Nice, Public Enemy, Justice and Stetsasonic speaking to gun violence.

That cut was followed up with the West Coast All-stars We’re All in the Same Gang. That song which featured everyone from NWA to Digital Underground to Tone Loc to JJ Fad was the underscore the efforts that were afoot to bring about a Gang Truce in LA.. In fact during the launch of the song, rival gang members appeared on the Arsenio Hall show to shake hands and call for peace in the hood.

Not too long ago (2005) Snoop Dogg revisited the We’re All in the Same Gang concept by bringing the West Coast Hip Hop community for a Unity Summit..

KRSOne-bfresh2

KRS-One

Three years ago, KRS-One got the Hip Hop industry including Nelly, Redman, Method Man, Styles P, Rah Diggah, Busta Rhymes to name a few, to revisit the Self Destruction project ..There were several songs done to address violence in the hood including the title track  Self Construction.

There are plenty of artists who have always and will continue to speak on issues of the day including gun violence. They may not be covered in the mainstream and many pundits may either be unaware or purposely chose to overlook their efforts, but it doesn’t mean they’ve been silent…It’s up to us to highlight them. Whether it’s the Hip Hop Chess Federation with Adisa Banjoko or artists like DLabrie of Hip Hop Congress, Queen Deehlah of the Silence the Violence Movement or Refa 1 of Aerosoul Movement all doing peace efforts in the Bay Area or artists like Wise Intelligent,  Hakim Green of Channel Live doing peace efforts in New Jersey or artists like I Self Devine, Toki Wright and Brother Ali of the Rhymesayers sparking peace in the Twin Cities to Jasiri X, Paradise Gray of X-Clan and the folks in Pittsburgh’s One Hood . There’s a lot of folks doing good things..

man-with-gunOne of the best and most timeless songs dealing with gun violence comes from Oakland rapper Frank J.. He was a member of a crew called Legion of Une  (Union City) which later became 187 Fac.. The song Brotha Put the Gun Away, was Frank J recounted all his friends who died and how he decided to put the gun away. He talks about real life incidents that took place in Oakland and around the Bay Area including losing his brother.. It’s a powerful song..the lyrics are searing.. I wish more folks would do songs like this..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGJJGFzl7jM

Another incredible and profound song comes from Organized Konfusion..Pharoah Monch and Prince Po drop lyrics that describe the path of a stray bullet..

These lyrics are haunting and all too true is far too many instances
Let the trigger finger put the pressure to the mechanism
Which gives a response, for the automatic *bang*
Clip to release projectiles in single
file forcing me to ignite then travel
through the barrel, headed for the light
At the end of a tunnel, with no specific target in sight
Slow the flow like H2O water
Visualize, the scene of a homicide, a slaughter
No remorse for the course I take when you pull it
The result’s a stray bullet
Niggaz who knew hit the ground runnin and stay down
Except for the kids who played on the playground
Cause for some little girl she’ll never see
more than six years of life, trif-le-ing
When she fell from the seesaw
But umm wait, my course isn’t over
Fled out of the other side of her head towards
a red, Range, Rover, then I ricochet
Fast past a brother’s ass, oh damn, what that nigga say
“Aww fuck it”, next target’s Margaret’s face *bang*
and I struck it

courtesy of OHHLA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNcS5Wl2qlo

We should also note as was pointed out by long time writer Spencer Abbott.. that Stray Bullet was the first of 3 songs dealing with this topic..Pharoah Monch takes it to higher levels with these other two songs When The Gun Draws and climaxed with “Damage“.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ6-FYAngvc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h4jOId8eSg

public Enemy ptAnother cut that deals with Gun Violence comes from Public Enemy… Its called Whatcha Gonna Do.. The song is incredible where Chuck D talks about how we keep shooting each other.. Some of the lyrics are as follows:

Talkin dat drive by shit
Everybody talkin dat gangsta shit

Talkin dat drive by thang
Everybody talking dat gangsta swang

Slaves to the rhythm of the master
Buck boom buck another
Neighborhood disaster
(Drummer hit me one)

A gun iz a gun iz
A muther fuckin gun
But an organized side
Keep a sellout niga on the run

What you gonna do to get paid
Step on the rest of the hood
Till the drug raid

See you runnin like roaches
Black gangstas need track coaches

The white law set you up raw
When you have his trust in killin us..

courtesy of OHHLA

The video which was rarely seen depicts a re-enactment of an attempt to shoot a fictional Black president near the grassy knoll ala JFK.. Great video, but the lyrics stand by themselves and speak to issues of self-hatred and gun violence..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhKqsIe283c

Anothers songto consider and perhaps the most potent is NasI Gave You Power

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJf2q_w7L_8

Ice Cube Says Everything’s Corrupt Weighs in on the Political System & Capitalism

Looks like folks are coming out and making serious statements. I wish Ice Cube dropped this song a month ago, because it would’ve got a lot of folks thinking and asking hard questions before the election. nevertheless its a dope song and good video. props to the Don mega…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bspNR5gbQf8

Ice Cube drops a serious jam