RedefineHipHop: Operation LA (Journal Entry #1)!!

February 28, 2012 7 min read

Warning: Hip Hop Collectors and 80s/90s Rap Fanatics please take a seat and prepare to have your mind blown!

I had been to LA before, three times in fact, but never had a chance to really take in or explore the city at all. Two of the times were for Scribble Jam Tour dates where I just came into town that day, did the show that night, and was gone the next morning…virtually seeing no more than the area around the venues. The third time was on a week long, family vacation to Disneyland, but we didn’t leave the theme park too often and when we did it was more touristy type stuff. This trip was different. Six days of exploring various parts of the city and its outskirts, giving me an opportunity to experience a range of the experience that is LA. I was in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Skid Row, Venice, Bellflower, Inglewood, South Central, Palms, Leimert Park, Burbank, etc…

And when I say “I”, I really mean “We”… Super shout out goes to my Video Expert, Travel Navigator, and Tour Guide, Adam Stanzak. He looked out in a major way on this trip. He was a huge part of what made it successful and fun, plus he has an impressive appreciation for music that I would say is rare.

The mission for this trip was to connect with as many LA Hip Hop Pioneers and Innovators as possible for expansive and candid interviews. From my experience, I knew to always plan to shoot for a unrealistic number of interviews and you are likely to actually complete about 5-10% of what you aim for. For example, I had confirmed or semi-confirmed 20 interviews before heading to LA and we ended up knocking out 9, which is actually a high average, but the funny thing is that only 5 of the 9 were pre-planned. The others popped up thru connections while out there on a whim…

and so it begins...

Tuesday, Feb 21st: Flew into LA about 5 PM, scooped up the fancy rental car (the Chrysler 300 was on some space-age technology a lil something) and headed to the hotel, The Beverly Laurel* in West Hollywood. It’s a simple, fair-priced, non-flashy, but charismatic spot. They have a great staff and also the location is pretty central. Plus it’s connected to the awesome late night restaurant, Swingers. I found myself ending many of my nights there, exploring their great veggie/vegan friendly menu while prepping for the next days interviews and people watching…

I immediately headed out to scoop up Adam so we could connect and come up with an attack plan for the week. We went to grab food at a favorite spot of his, Café Brasil, which was quite tasty. From there we headed over to Echoplex to catch some LA Underground Hip Hop. Open Mike Eagle had a great set! I’m already a fan of his albums, but his personality shines thru even brighter in the live show. There was plenty of entertaining banter, familiar album cuts and some great sounding new material as well. Nocando rocked next, introducing predominantly brand new material…with some assist from his Hellfyre Club associates. Busdriver took to the stage next, pulling heavily from his "Beaus & Eros" new album, but mixed in some of the Busdriver “hits” as well! About halfway thru his set he brought out Nocando and they proceeded to go at it, high-energy style, for the rest of the performance. Kiler Mike was the headliner, but I needed to head out and get some rest for a presumed busy following day. It was that early exit that caused me to miss meeting up with Trackstar The DJ, who was spinning for Killer Mike. However, I did run into Abstract Rude and kicked it for a minute and had a chance to briefly talk to Busdriverafter he got off stage. I think he felt as if I had just teleported in out of nowhere to catch his set, which is nearly true, but less dramatic and scientific…

Wed, Feb 22nd: I had hoped that I was going to be able to start knocking out interviews today with some of the several people that I had confirmed weeks prior, but connecting with anyone was proving difficult. I started to worry that this trip would be far less fruitful than I had hoped. After making several phone calls, texts, facebook messages, and emails, I deiced to just get out and enjoy LA. I hit up this spot not to far from the hotel, Vegan Glory, which was awesome. Then Adam and I headed out to Venice Beach to walk around. It was quite the mixture of cool, interesting, bugged out and sketchy…but enjoyable none-the-less. Later we hit up this spot, Native Foods, which was tasty, plus we sat one table away from famed actor, Tim Robbins, so that was my LA celebrity experience…

Later in the evening we head to popular L.A. Producer night, Low End Theory. It is a great night and it is amazing they can pack the place on a weekly basis by showcasing producers and DJs. The night is commanded by Daddy Kev, Nocando, Gaslamp Killer, & D-Styles! What a high-level listing of curators and they all represented with their own sets thru out the night in-between the special guests. I must say that Daddy Kev started the night off displaying all new beats that were sounding ridiculous!

Thur, Feb 23rd:
Finally a confirmed interview! Oddly enough, the first thing locked in was from someone who I hadn’t even hit up before coming to LA. I sent Born Allah a message on Facebook randomly on yesterday and he did a quick response and locked me in for today, so props on his quick and efficient professionalism. On the way to his spot I get a call from Tee The O.G. from KMC and we discuss the possibility of hooking up later.

The Born Allah interview is the start of a week of amazing stories. For those who don’t know, Born Allah, originally from New York, has been an active and powerful force on the LA Hip Hop scene since the 80s. He first got national attention thru his Columbia Records deal with his group Movement EX (he was known as Lord Mustafa then). However, I discovered that his true entrance to the business was years earlier in his early teens as ghost-writer for a mega-popular Pop Boy Band! He informed us of a “controversy” behind their Marley Marl remix. He also revealed the existence of a completely finished, but never released second Movement Ex album, which he has the DATS and Reels for! Not just that, but a wealth of unreleased music of his own thru out the last couple decades. Before we jetted, he played some of his latest work with his crew Tabernacle MCz, which features cameos by Erule and stellar production by Shafiq Hussien (a.k.a SLJ or Slej The Ruffedge from Rhyme Syndicate) and Lord Jamar. You can get up on that new new HERE and we’ll hit you with the history soon!

We leave Born’s spot to go to Earelz Grille to get a quick snack and hope to run into the restaurant’s owner, who is better professionally known as Earle The Poet a.k..a Don Jagwarr. We did a interview with him a while back that talks about his days as the fame Hot Dog Cart Battle MC, including stories of taking on and out, Micah 9 and Aceyalone of Freestyle Fellowship some time in the 80s. Plus the history on his “High Noon” single on EMI in ’90 and eventually his transformation to a more Ragga style as Don Jagwarr, which lead to features with 2Pac and Ice Cube (including Cube’s “Wicked”). His restaurant is essentially a fast food Hot Dog joint, but he has a vegan/veggie friendly menu also. I was really impressed with his Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes! Unfortunately, Jagwarr wasn’t around to thank personally, so we’ll have to catch him next go around…

Since we are in the area we decided to drive by Leimert Park, the home base of Project Blowed. The building is currently doing some renovations so I didn’t get to go inside, but still it was great to explore the area, which is a cool spot with a series of shops and spots that are enriched with a strong Culturally experience.

From there, head back to the hotel to regroup and make some phone calls. I connect with Manslaughter from The Funkytown Pros crew, he’s about to head to Vegas for the weekend, but he finally gets me back in touch with Devastatin’ a.k.a Dev The Rhythm Fluctuator from Funkytown Pros and we arrange to hook up later in the week.

Then we ride out to Fat Jack’s house to interview Fat Jack and Abstract Rude. Fat Jack’s history is deep! I know he had history, but this was next level! He spoke on some things that would make the world of Hip Hop Internet Collectors eyes pop out!! He revealed that when he and Ab Rude recorded the classics, “Underground Fossils” and “Mood Pieces”, both times they had far more material than would fit on the vinyl, so they had to keep cutting back , resulting in about two albums of unreleased material from those projects that nearly no one has ever heard! He also spoke about his thoughts and plans to get out a few other unreleased gems, such as the S.I.N (Medusa & KoKo) album and Ganjah K’s “Harvest The World”!! I thought I was pretty well versed on Abstract Rude’s history, but he filled in a lot of blanks with some intriguing stories. Plus he hit me with 14 cuts from his upcoming album, which is coming along pretty ridiculously!

Later that night I head out to Hollywood to a party called Afex. I was trying to connect with Doc Clarke, who is good friends with Lady Of Rage, so I could try to secure an interview (unfortunately, it doesn’t happen this trip). I hang out a bit there, but then decide I’d rather just walk around outside with the IPOD and peep the area, so I do that until heading back to my Hotel/Swingers Restaurant, for my standard day closer….

More stories, missions and brain-splitting archives in part two tomorrow!! Plus Adam Stanzak is hard at work editing together several videos from this trip that we will be sharing soon!!

Written & Experienced by Kevin Beacham

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.