RedefineHipHop: Operation LA (Journal Entry #2)!!


Warning: Hip Hop Collectors and 80s/90s Rap Fanatics please take a seat and prepare to have your mind blown! Peep the LA Journal Entry #1 HERE!

FRI, Feb 24th
Start off my day hitting up Real Food Daily, a vegan spot that J Bird told me I “had” to hit up. I’m super glad I did! The Vegan Creole Gumbo and Strawberry Shake were amazing! No doubt I was going to be returning there.

Then it was off to the Burbank area to catch up with Big Dad (Of L.A. Posse). This interview was definitely one of my biggest priorities of the trip. I have never really seen much info written about them, but they are such a critical piece of LA Hip Hop history and how it spread to the East Coast. It still seems so hard to believe that Russell Simmons decided to pick two relatively unknown producers from the West Coast to produce one of the biggest Hip Hop artists on the East Coast, LL Cool J. Particularly at a time when the East Coast was not feeling L.A. Hip Hop in any way… Yet, The LA Posseproduced "Bigger And Deffer"{ and help make LL even a bigger star. We spoke about all of that, plus literally 100s of unreleased songs recorded by L.A. Posse and Breeze while he was signed to Def Jam for about 5 years and never getting anything released. How the L.A. Posse discovered Nikki D, Lady Of Rage, W.I.S.E Guyz, plus their Production Deal with Atlantic, and all sorts of behind the scenes industry challenges! You might not know them by name, but you probably know the music! L.A. Posse produced some of LL's biggest songs ever; I'm Bad, I Need Love, Big Ole Butt, I'm The Type Of Guy, and the list goes on!!)

From there, it was a rush to beat traffic and catch up with the somewhat elusive J Sumbi. I knew he was involved in the early days of Freestyle Fellowship, but wasn’t exactly sure to what degree. The story of how he masterminded the release of “To Whom It May Concern”, as well as key parts of the organizational recording and marketing efforts of the group marked him far more instrumental than I had imagined. Although he is not still active on the scene, he is one of the rare artists who were very diligent about cataloging their material. He has 4-Track demos dating back to the 80s and 90s recorded by himself and his many crews, neighborhood MCs, unreleased sessions with Freestyle Fellowship Members, and also the completed and never released All In All a.k.a The Sunshine Men album! Thru out our discussion we easily came up with several hundred songs that he has sitting safely in storage of reels, ADATS, DATS, 4 Track Tapes, etc… Incredible!

After those back to back, information overload based interviews I needed a minute stop my head from spinning so we head back to Earlez Grille. This time, owner, Jagwarr is in the place to be. We speak to him about his new business plans and my research. Later he puts me in contact with the legendary DJ Battlecat and DJ U-Neek. While there I give a call to MC Breeze (Big Dad hooked me with the number) and we talk about trying to connect over the weekend. I’m excited about that because I’m a huge fan and I know he has interesting story, particularly after Big Dad told me about those 100s of unreleased tracks. Then I grab another Earelz Grille Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake and we’re out…

Adam gets word about an Art Opening that is supposed to be a hot spot, so we head over to “THIS Los Angeles Gallery” and it’s definitely popping off. People are packed in the gallery and it is spilling out on the street. It’s a nice mixed crowd and plenty of good-looking peoples. I look up at one point and there is Mr Dan Monick! It’s unreal the amount of people I have forgot live in LA that I could have connected with. You might know Dan Monick for his long career of quality photo work and more specific to Rhymesayers, as the photographer behind the “Seven Years With Atmosphere And Rhymesayers” Book.

After that, we try to go back to the Echoplex to catch The Budos Band, but it’s sold out. Next move is to The Airliner to catch the Fat Lip (Pharcyde) and Doodlebug (Digable Planets) show. I get to meet Thomas Visee the Beat Bop Scholar, who is a true Hip Hop fan and upcoming producer. He let me know that my main man Percee P was in the house so we got to connect for a bit also. The photo with this blog posting is with us three together kicking it.

SAT, Feb 25th
Wake up, pack up and check out of the Beverly Laurel. I’ve been fantasizing about the Real Food Daily breakfast menu so I head over, but only to find they don’t open until 11:30…that’s the wack. This is L.A.’s first real #FAIL. I use the handy IPHONE to find another spot and head over to California Vegan, which definitely was a hit.

The next mission is to connect with another West Coast Legend/Renaissance Man, General Jeff. His history is deep as a DJ, Producer, Human Beat Box, Popper, & MC. He was a member of Uncle Jamm’s Army, Bobby Jimmy & The Critters, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, and so on. He has now shifted his focus to being a community organizer and activist in the heart of Skid Row. We headed to Skid Row for an event they were having called “Operation: Facelift 2012 Kickoff Campaign”, which helped clean up the community, gave free musical entertainment, provided food, and created awareness in the community. It was a powerful event and I’m glad I was there to witness it. We later sat down to speak with General Jeff on his Hip Hop History and how and why the Hip Hop Community should get involved in helping Skid Row and similar areas across the world!

I’m still fiending for my Real Food Daily fix so we head over there for dinner before out next adventure, which results in another glorious LA eating event.

Another last minute opportunity that came up was connecting with Self Jupiter (of Freestyle Fellowship) and Kenny Segal and speaking about their latest collaboration, The Kleenerz! This project is super ill! It's a concept project that taps perfectly into the MC personality of Self-Jupiter; abstract, dark, humorous, and vividly visual. Everything fits into place so well from the concepts, Kenny's 

Later in the night it was time to unwind so we decided to do something off the normal schedule. Adam had friend celebrating a B-Day at a popular West Hollywood Bar called the Saddle Ranch so we went to check it out. It was exactly what the name suggested, but it was interesting to take in this other side of LA life and get to be, who was probably, the only sober person watching a endless amount of drunken girls take their chances on the mechanical bull. Surprisingly, which only resulted in one shirt strap malfunction... After what I guess was a unhealthy, but entertaining, amount of that we headed to Adam's spot to wrap up the loose ends on the completed interviews and discuss final edits. Then crash out before the final day...

SUN, Feb 26th: Get up and get to explore yet another different Vegan restaurant, simply called The Vegan Joint. They have a very intriguing breakfast menu. I decide to go the with what they have listed as the "Chicken Pancake" sounded to strange to pass up. I imagined pieces of soy chicken mixed in the pancake batter and I was reluctantly OK with that...ha. However, it was just a vegan pancake with a side of deep fried soy chicken, but in any event, it was mega tasty...simply fantastic! Since that meal had me walking on clouds I decided to walk a long roundabout way back to Adam's spot to explore the neighborhood. I always like to do at least one long walk in any city I visit... I get back to the house just in time to meet up with Devastatin' a.k.a Dev The Fluctuator of The Funkytown Pros!

I proudly stand by my belief that the Funkytown Pros "Reachin' A Level Assasnation" (4th& Broadway 1991) is one of my all-time favorite Hip Hop albums. That's based on creativity, level of lyricism, innovative production, and just about anything else you can sonically judge a record album. I have been in touch with members of Funkytown Pros since about 1995, but we have never done an interview, strangely enough, and never met in person, so this was a big deal to me! Dev came thru with his son, who is now building a growing music career, with guidance from Dev...looking to get some of the music to share soon!

In the interview, we talked about the Funkytown Pros career, as well as their extended crew, The Professionals; K Borne, Manslaughter, H2Boss, Freestyle, Rooster,etc... The story of the Funkytown Pros starts in 1986* and my brain was melting as Dev told me about all the tapes of unreleased tapes he has. This includes; demos from before their debut album. Plus when they were signed to Capitol Records in the Mid 90s they actually worked on two completely different albums, one with a more East Coast sound and one with a more West Coast sound. Being that I'm one of the few people that have some of the songs from that era, I was able to piece together some sense of that, imagining the differences. For example, East Coast Album-"My Altitude" & "The Remedy" and West Coast Album "Verbal Judo" & "Fake Ass Hip Hoppa". Somewhere in the conversation he revealed that a long time friend just recently presented him with a box full of DATS of his productions that he hasn't even seen/heard in over 15 years! So he's bound to find many hidden gems there. Not just of the Funkytown Pros cuts, but also the near completed albums for each of The Professionals as listed above! Yep, I predict another trip to LA this Summer with the focus on archiving tons of unheard music from all these artists!

Reachin' A Level Of Assassination Sampler:

By this time, I'm down to my last half day in town so we make a final trip back to Venice Beach to try it as a weekend experience. It's a little more active on the weekend, but still a bit "odd". The highlight is visiting the massive drum circle, where anyone can bring a percussion (or other) instrument and join in to play for hours, while people listen and dance, that was pretty awesome! We leave the beach and run into this spot called Vardo Cafe that had this Vegan Saffron Ice Cream. Once again I had that uncertain feeling, but irresistible urge to try it. It had this very smooth and distinctive taste. Very different but delectable. Both Adam and I agreed ecstatically that it was the truth.

That moment of food euphoria reminds us that we had dessert before partaking in dinner, so head to The Vegan Joint, to end my day the way I started and have a great meal. Adam and I abandon the Hip Hop talk a while to talk about life. Then drop him off, say my peace to everyone and head off to the airport. In a fleeting moment of not being ready to leave, I re-route myself to Real Food Daily to grab one last Vegan Strawberry Shake (Obsess Much?) and then off to the airport.

All in all, this was a amazing trip, filled with incredible stories, tales of unbelievable archives, addictive food, and great people! Adam is hard at work editing the hours and hours of captured footage to share soon, so stay tuned!

*Hence the Boiwondah beautifully grim line in "Brutally Wild", "(This) style I made in '86, no matter the date it kicks/Like a dope addicting new born baby crying for a fix"

Written and Experienced by Kevin Beacham

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