March 9, 2017

In a year or two from now, the national magazines will swoop into Los Angeles to give a birds-eye view of the “exciting new LA rap scene.” It will be slightly different from the last time, the names switched to promote the partially guilty, full of glorified romanticization of lean, semi-automatics, and the unassailable strength of gangbanging. After the story has been splintered into the pavement, there will be a new crop of rappers in a different city, rapping about similar things in different dialects and cadences to mine for content. For now, enjoy the fact that LA is once again producing a singular street rap culture, almost completely ignorant of the industry bullshit so pervasive just 10 miles north of South Central, Compton and Inglewood. Having seen these cycles play out enough times, my only advice to you is enjoy the rap songs and hope that Drake isn’t reading this blog (or one of his multi-tentacled team of Soundcloud goons).

The truth is that the streets invariably move much faster than any outsider can keep track. The most popular rappers in LA are technically TDE, YG, RJ, Problem, Nipsey, and whatever Mustard is producing at that minute. Vince Staples and Earl are as close as you can to being “mainstream” while still resisting every single inane compromise required to get corporate sponsorship. While Tyler became somewhere between PT Barnum and PT Anderson.

But over the last year, an entirely new crop of stars emerged. All it took was one Mustard feature to spark Drakeo’s ascent to stardom, and when he comes home from County he could be the closest local analogue to Gucci Mane circa 07-08. There’s G Perico, who brought back the activator curl, exhumed the spirit of Eazy E, and figures to be the one rapper to unite East Coast traditionalist heads with people who can recite Rhythmalism like it was the national anthem. There’s guys like Famous Uno carrying on the torch of clown dancing, krumping, and the jerk movement (which produced YG, Cam & China, and Mustard so no shots). Desto Dubb’s “Born to Sale Juice” is so good he deserves a flowing promethazine fountain dedicated to him on 103rd St. AD is a project away from becoming a national force. Natia has a genuine army of skate rats behind him. And there’s a whole list of names that might seem obscurities to you, but are causing waves of varying degrees (Bad Seed, FT Hop Out, Jay Worthey, Earl Swavey, MackkRucci, Panda Badazz, GMacc, TGBlacck, Teecee 4800, etc).

Somewhere prominently in the mix are FrostyDaSnowMann and Almighty Suspect, hailing from Inglewood. The pair rap solo and together and could wind up the Herb and Bibby of LA — two kids barely out of their teens who rap with bug-eyed abandon, cryptic slang, and frantic energy that no amount of codeine can turn sluggish. They’ve rapped alongside Drakeo, and there’s clear stylistic similarities — indebted to YG and the Bay, Nipsey and Suga Free. They could wind up the LA version of Keak Da Sneak and Mistah Fab. It doesn’t really feel like imitation as much as it’s a reflection of LA –the lingo and rhythms, the stories of flocking and pimping, and a song about getting Bucks like Milwaukee (shout out Jadakiss and Sam Cassell).

At a time when the industry seems to have a stronger playlist and radio stranglehold than ever, their music reminds you that it’s only the corniest kids that buy distressed denim jackets and kale smoothies to be like Big Sean. Genuine regional culture exists outside of the sterile shit you hear on the radio. There is a real power of people rapping for only those people in the nearest five square miles in every direction. These two deserve Big Faced Gurbs and hopefully will get a statue outside the Forum without being required to change what makes them so quintessentially LA.