Along with sports lifestyle brand ’47, Clash is delving into cities where rising rappers are redefining how their city is viewed within the global hip-hop culture, embodying ‘47’s mantra to “let your you out.”
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For decades now, Los Angeles hip-hop has been intertwined with pop culture. The L.A. lifestyle, has been portrayed in countless films, albums and even video games. In the late eighties and early nineties it was depicted in John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood, Allen and Albert Hughes’ Menace II Society, N.W.A’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and Ice Cube’s ‘Death Certificate’.
Through the mid 90’s 2Pac, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and their media-fuelled rivalry with the East Coast, were heard around the world, particularly with its tragic conclusion.
And it’s therefore unsurprising that over the past few years some of the strongest rap albums are portrayals of L.A. life: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’, YG’s ‘My Krazy Life’ and Vince Staples’ ‘Summertime ’06’, are all incredibly lucid examples of growing up in areas like Compton and Long Beach, each from a very authentic and individual perspective.
Through their incredibly vivid works of art, all of these artists have inspired kids around the world to express themselves and share their own realities, making L.A. a hub for self expression and style that has transcended generations.
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Rapper G Perico - the self-proclaimed “ghetto president of South Central” - has been attracting global acclaim with independently released projects like cult classic ‘All Blue’ and his most recent ‘Guess What?’ and is heavily influenced by his surroundings.
“It’s a creative place,” he says. “L.A. is like a movie: you’ve got the beautiful weather, but you’ve also got the action, so it makes a great story line. I think that’s why there’s so many great artists. It’s a great place for art.”
He understands the attraction of the city’s culture to outsiders, and witnesses it first hand when he tours the world. “Just the way we think, the way we talk, the way we act and the way we dress is unique from everywhere else. I feel like that’s why everybody is starting to adopt the culture in they own shit.”
Outside of music, Perico is investing back into his community with a brick and mortar retail store called So Way Out, where he sells his merchandise. “It’s right in the heart of my hood,” he proclaims proudly. “[I wanted] to put something in the area that people could be proud of, to see something outside of illegal shit - because I come from a high-crime area. It’s just something for people to look at and know what’s possible.”
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DreamVille’s Cozz dropped his second album ‘Effected’ on J. Cole’s imprint in February, and credits South Central as a vital influence. “I went back to my Pop’s house just to write, to get that feeling back again,” he explains. “I started [the album] where I started from, and brought it to where I am now.”
The album combines his L.A.-inspired narratives with dense soulful production drawn from his broad musical taste, which he attributes to his mother, who pushed his palate beyond local gangsta rap.
“She would try to deter me away from listening to certain shit, and I would sneak to listen to it. But my Mom had me listening to all type of genres. I knew a lot of music: my dad is Nigerian, so I had a lot of Jamaican music and Belizean music in the house.”
Cozz’s Los Angeles upbringing is nonetheless intrinsic to his self-expression, from his lingo to the way that he dresses: “Anything L.A., I stan,” he admits. “L.A. Dodgers, growing up that’s all I’d see. My whole life I’ve been rocking they gear. You’ll see damn near every L.A. dude with tattoos with that Dodgers logo on them. That shit is deep.”
A highlight of this year for Cozz has been to tour the US as a headline act, witnessing first hand how his music is impacting kids everywhere. But, understandably, a particular highlight was the homecoming show.
“There’s nothing like an L.A. show,” he explains. “The energy is amazing, and everybody knew the shit word for word. It made me feel like a superstar.”
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Words: Grant Brydon
Photos: Nathanael Turner
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