I Partied Hard With Far East Movement
Prohgress (Left) and Kev Nish (Right)
[Editor's note: Soon-to-be-award-winning gonzo music journalist Danielle Bacher prowls the late late night scene for West Coast Sound. For this installment, she hit the town with L.A. hip-hop group Far East Movement -- most famous for their 2010 number one song "Like a G6" -- in debauchery fashion.]
2:37 p.m.: It's mid-September, and I'm at the Mad Decent Block Party in Downtown L.A., watching a bleary-eyed girl sit cross-legged on the ground. She just puked nachos into a trashcan. She proceeds to pop three ecstasy pills into her mouth. She pulls down her black tank to reveal her right nipple. She got it pierced two days ago. It looks swollen and infected. "You wanna touch it?" she asks.
See also: Our review of the Mad Decent Block Party
2:39 p.m.: Far East Movement member James Roh, aka Prohgress, doesn't notice the girl. He's standing backstage on a black T-shirt that reads "We So Mutha Fucking Illest" and blue pants with a detailed chain pattern on them. Fellow group member DJ Virman tips his hat and adjusts the gold chain around his neck, while MCs Kev Nish and J-Splif fist bump.
Riff Raff (Center)
2:41 p.m.: Rapper Riff Raff, who is on the bill for the show, holds a red plastic cup in his hand. A friend pours what must be about four shots of Hennessy into it.
2:42 p.m.: Riff Raff gulps the booze down as he cradles his Siberian husky puppy, which he just acquired as has named Jody Husky. He whispers something into the dog's ear and adjusts his multi-colored shades. "I gotta go!" he announces and dashes toward the stage.
2:43 p.m.: "We were going to the local lean dealership when we met Riff Raff," jokes Nish. In actuality, the group met Riff a few months ago after he heard the beat for their new track "The Illest" on a friend's phone. He met up with them at a studio and proceeded to freestyle over it, which ended up on the released version. Before Riff left, it is said, he tried to steal J-Splif's shoes because they matched his outfit.
2:44 p.m.: "We've been seeing Riff on the Internet like crazy. We honestly always try to think outside the box and be different with our collabs," says Nish. "We thought Riff would be the perfect dude for the track because the song isn't a statement about being the illest. It's a mentality. It don't matter how skinny and lanky you are, how dorky you are or how cool you are. It's a badass feeling that today you don't give a fuck, and he gets that."
Far East Movement and Riff Raff
2:46 p.m.: It's that time. Riff brings Far East Movement onstage to perform their song "The Illest" from FM's mixtape Grizzly. The track has a trance-y intro, but it morphs into a dubstep-influenced hip-hop track. The crowd loves it.
Prohgress Dives Into the Crowd
2:48 p.m.: Prohgress dives into the crowd while the rest of the group jumps around manically on stage.
3:01 p.m.: Riff Raff has gone over his set time, and so his sound gets cut off in the middle of his song. "GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW! THE EXIT IS THIS WAY!" yells a security guard, who proceeds to escort Riff Raff out of the venue. Apparently there's an altercation back stage, but nobody's exactly sure of the details.
3:34 p.m.: "Are you trying to turn it up this afternoon?" Nish asks me. "Open bar! But look at us; we're standing here like the outcasts of the party."
3:35 p.m.: Mexican food is one thing these guys love talking about. They are self-proclaimed taco connoisseurs.
3:36 p.m.: "We could easily go to another city and say, 'Your tacos are weak.' You cannot fade L.A. We break it down from the marinating of the carne asada to how you chop the onions to the crispness of the cilantro," says Nish.
"Yeah, and you have to add some Sunny Delight to the carne asada! Oh, and the onion ratio has to be just right." J-Splif adds.
Kev Nish (Right) J-Splif (Center) and Prohgress (Right)
3:40 p.m.: After more discussion of how bomb L.A.'s tacos are, Nish decides that he needs some grub and some rest. "We were in the studio until six in the morning. I'm exhausted, and I need some 24-hour Old Spice. It's hot as fuck out here!"
7:30 p.m.: Later with the guys I'm at the Tarzana home of Macy Gray -- yes the Macy Gray. She hauls an oversized chair across the driveway. Her shoelaces are untied, and I'm worried she might trip. "How you doing?" she asks me. She's wearing a pink shirt with a British flag, and baggy jeans. Her hair looks unbrushed. She's slightly awkward, but very friendly.
7:40 p.m.: Inside, the family room has framed photos of Gray on the walls and tons of awards that she's earned over the years. About 25 people are here to watch the Mayweather / Álvarez fight from Las Vegas.
7:42 p.m.: Holy shit! Bobby Brown just walked past. Holy shit. He's calm and happy and takes a seat on the couch.
7:43 p.m.: Nish loads up on some food that Brown made for the party. He (Nish) is obsessed with the macaroni and cheese. He goes back for seconds, thirds and fourths. He's skinny as hell, but he eats a shitload.
7:50 p.m.: I never thought I would be watching a boxing match in Macy Gray's house. Turns out Far East Movement wrote a song with her in mind entitled "Forever Survivor." "We've always been Macy Gray fans," says Nish. "She was on our wish list of collaborators, and we thought this song would be perfect for her. If we have someone in mind, we'll write something and then present it to them. We played it for her, and she loved it."
7:53 p.m.: The song will most likely be featured on their next album, which they currently are working on. Gray amended some of the lyrics and made the song her own. It is a reflection of the members' camaraderie and musicianship and the struggles they face. "We're always talking about partying," says Nish. "But you have to have a mentality to create longevity. Through the darkest and downest times, there's no such thing as quitting. There are a thousand songs like that, but for us, it's a first."
8:20 p.m: Gray glides over to us and says she's excited about the new track. "I think it will be a hit," she says. She quickly walks away and heads toward the kitchen.
8:24 p.m.: Prohgress downs a strawberry Sunkist and mentions that he doesn't often smoke weed because it makes him paranoid. He enjoys cocaine and ecstasy, however.
8:25 p.m.: Over the summer, they traveled to the French island Corsica to do a live performance. After the show, they brought people back to party in their hotel room. Apparently, their night got so wild that someone took a shit in the bathtub and syringes were found in the other room.
8:27: The group has been touring and making music together for ten years. They originally performed straight hip-hop, but after a trip to Amsterdam, they got turned on to dance music and began combining the two genres. "We get to take everything we grew up on and mash it up with what we learned in the dance world. And we also learned how strong and long-lasting dance music is," Nish says.
8:28 p.m.: "We've been in the studio every waking hour of our lives," he continues. "We've been experimenting. It's about finding that sound we want to go with. The best thing we can do now is take influences from all different walks of life. From noises you hear in a restaurant to the sound the water makes in a toilet. But you know, we don't want to go too EDM."
"When 'Like a G6' came out, everyone was loving everything," he says. "How do we bridge the world of EDM and hip-hop? It's really starting to get segregated. It's an interesting space for us, because we've always been a mashup crew. As far as our DJ mentality, production and rap cadences, that's where we are experimenting and taking risks."
8:29 p.m.: Prohgress thinks that brands are important in hip-hop now. "You really think people can name any of Riff Raff's songs? I don't think many people could, but everyone knows who he is. That's what's crazy. But to see hip-hop come back so strong, especially in L.A., is cool."
8:30 p.m.: In the background, undercard fighters Danny Garcia and Lucas Mathysse pound each other. People cheer and scream.
9:36: p.m.: The Mayweather / Álvarez fight is about to begin, and Mayweather makes his way to the ring accompanied by Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber. Wayne raps "A Milli," and someone mocks him for never wearing a damn shirt.
11:10 p.m.: A drunken female partygoer falls flat on her face. People are getting really fucked up here.
11:16 p.m.: After the main event ends in a Mayweather majority decision, we follow Gray into her recording studio. Inside, there are beats playing, lots of instruments and more pictures of her. We're heading to Dim Mak Studios and invite her to come along. "Oh, I'm not ready for that trap music," she says. "You have some bail money?" We laugh, but I'm not really sure what she means.
11:30 p.m.: I stop to get gas near Vanalden Ave. and the 101, and I see a bunch of cheerleaders dancing outside to Drake. A 20something guy in the parking lot smokes meth inside his car. He opens the door and stumbles around the gas station, where he attempts to dance with the cheerleaders, but they get freaked out and quickly drive away.
Rell The Soundbender
12:10 a.m.: It's a nearly packed house at Dim Mak, and Nish and Prohgress are in VIP, pouring Grey Goose into glasses. Rell The Soundbender starts with some hard beats, mixing classic West Coast hip-hop with trap.
12:21 a.m.: Rell just finished a project with Far East Movement called "Murder Was the Base," which will feature Kurupt. "It was the illest shit ever to get him singing 'Murder was the base that they gave me' on there. He kills it. It's a good fusion of all our worlds." They're putting the song online for free sometime in the next week.
12:30 a.m.: Speaking of Snoop, he is one of Far East Movement's mentors. They have learned a lot from him, like how to keep control on stage. In August, they performed with Snoop in Belgium. He cut "Gin & Juice" from his own set so they could perform a song on stage with him. "I can't believe he cut it out!" says Nish. "He's so generous. And you learn from that. No matter how big you get in the game, you give back."
Rell The Soundbender
12:31 a.m.: With that in mind, they started a marketing firm called Transparent Agency. Even though they work long hours in their Inglewood studio, they say, they still find time to produce and work with new artists, like Rell.
"We built this agency so we didn't have to rely on Interscope. Now we can work with creative and innovative people," Nish says. "We want our artists to breathe in their own space and do their own thing. But we also collaborate with them, too."
12:41 a.m.: Rell gets the crowd going hard. Two Britney Spears wannabes are shaking their asses.
12:48 a.m.: Nish is double fisting beer and vodka cranberry. He's smiling and dancing. "I'm so drunk!" he screams.
Prohgress (Left) and Rell (Right)
1:10 a.m.: Rell is outside the club smoking a cigarette. He's wasted. "I'm really fucked up. Please write that my fucking set blows tonight." He stumbles away.
1:40 a.m.: Prohgress watches his friends pick up chicks. He tells me that he loves L.A. "It's our identity, personality and culture. It's what we have seen and grown up with."
1:46 a.m.: A very drunk girl faceplants on the floor. Now she's grinding up against another girl and trying to make out with her. The other girl is not feeling it.
2:00 a.m.: Rell takes the bottle of Grey Goose, chugs the rest of it and begins to smack the side of his ass like Happy Gilmore doing the bull dance. Proh does another shot of something. "People always say we should be doing Asian shit. At the end of the day, we aren't going to lie about who we are," he tells me, as I say goodbye. "If I were to do all this stereotypical Asian shit, I would be lying to our audience. We grew up in L.A. That's why we rep our city so hard. We want people to clearly understand what we are about: K-Town and West Coast hip-hop."
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