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The Chosin Few sound like they’re trying to take you hostage. Some rapid-fire, empty-the-clip, make everyone hit the floor rap. The South Central trio grew up in the 40s, but make it sound like E. 1999, spitting intricate chops that remind you why Bone Thugs and the Blowed briefly had beef.
The song is called “FXVDXD.” which loops the LA crew of Salvadoran descent back to Cypress Hill, that eternal South Gate narcotic trinity Their names are Evxga, Mars, and Statue — the former being two brothers whose grandparents fled civil war and brought the family north in search of opportunity. Music is in the bloodline. Their grandfather and uncles were musicians steeped in everything from traditional folk ballads to alternative rock. The kids were raised in South Central, so that meant skateboarding, graffiti, and classic West Coast gangsta rap from Westside Connection to Psycho Realm. Evxga described his adolescence as breaking into schools to skate and going into yards to bomb, fighting, stealing liquor, and smoking weed. Eventually, he wound up in the juvenile system for most of high school — getting out in time for his senior year and forming the group.
“Latin Rap” remains one of most overlooked chapters of L.A. rap history. Kid Frost was an original West Coast pioneer and Mellow Man Ace and Cypress Hill introduced a generation to essential pillars of the city’s structure, but it always went much deeper. There was Delinquent Habits sampling the Tijuana Brass and Eazy E’s group Brownside, there was a Lighter Shade of Brown waxing poetic about “homies” (they were pro homies) and Funkdoobiest, whose ’93 debut had beats from Muggs and reckless rec room bangers. Even Motown signed a Long Beach group called Tha Mexakinz. But as South LA became increasingly more Latinx, there hasn’t been a corresponding representation in rap — with several exceptions, the most notable being Inglewood’s King Lil G.
If The Chosin Few make so much sense in the context of LA 2019, it’s because what they’re doing extends much deeper than demographics or a marketing gimmick. Latin Rap is no longer a thing because Latinx people are roughly half of L.A. and like all vibrant cultures, it is far from monolithic. As a wise man once said, it’s regular. You might detect the anti-social strains of a post-Odd Future world (EVXGA briefly went to Fairfax) and a little ASAP Mob too. If Shoreline Mafia are the biggest LA rap group to emerge since the first time Tyler threatened to burn down the Ladera Starbucks, these guys are the logical next wave of lawless post-adolescents, posted up in front of yellow liquor store signs on Vermont and Wilton, clutching styrofoam cups and exhaling massive clouds of legal weed in Dodgers fitteds. They are like a half million teenagers throughout L.A. County, except they rap better.
“FVDXVD” reminds me of the first time I heard “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” which is to say it is one of the best L.A. rap songs of this year, which is to say that this might be the first time you hear of them, but it won’t be the last.