A Field Guide to Los Angeles Hip Hop
July 31, 2009
1989- Los Angeles. Rap and Hip Hop were being defined on the East Coast in places like Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Queens.
Gangster rap was flourishing on the West Coast, NWA were the hottest thing in town and was set to define the genre of West Coast rap for years to come…
Except there were others doing things differently. At a health food center in South Central Los Angeles in Leimert Park, The Good Life Café, something else was brewing. Started by B.Hall and her son R. Kain Blaze, the Good Life Café hosted an open mic workshop on Thursday nights where MC’s and musicians could find refuge and hone their craft. Musicians could perform written songs or freestyle. Gangster rap at the time was marked with harsh drug tales and explicit profanity. The Good Life Café instead had a no profanity policy. B.Hall in an interview explained “The no-cussing policy wasn’t about us being uptight church people, it was about wanting the atmosphere of a serious arts workshop.”
The workshop drew diverse artists from all over Los Angeles. Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, The Pharcyde, Fat Joe, Kurupt, Bone Thugs n Harmony, and emerging young artists like Pigeon John, Will.I.am, members of yet to be formed Jurrasic 5, Freestyle Fellowship. Cut- Chemist was the DJ at the time. It brought in people from very diverse backgrounds from those interested in Gangster Rap to those experimenting with Jazz Riffs.
The influences and reach of what happened on those Thursdays were widespread and started a chain reaction which helped shaped what hip-hop is today.
For more on the Los Angeles Hip hop, stay tuned for the next issue of The Experience Gallery where we talk to a former Good Lifer about his career and hip hop in Los Angeles at The Experience Gallery.