[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]
Kendrick Lamar attributed L.A.'s primacy to the women, weed and weather. He was quoting Biggie, who consecrated the left coast via song, despite his long-standing enmity toward Tupac, the city's patron saint. And both rappers were (very) loosely paraphrasing 19th-century civic booster ads attempting to convince Iowans to move to Pasadena.
Music has contributed to the self-perpetuating mythology. As I type this sentence, there are hundreds of disgruntled, winter-weary artists preparing to move to L.A. -- a response to mild climate and milder drug laws.
And in 2012, L.A. music might have achieved its most psychedelic apogee since the Lizard King (Jim Morrison) croaked.
The truth is that it's reductive to distill a year in music to 10 superior records. It all depends on your perspective or preferred panacea. But through purple-tinted lenses you can make a case for L.A. as a modern mecca of kaleidoscopic soul (Frank Ocean, Miguel), hallucinogenic rock and electronic music (Ariel Pink, Peaking Lights, White Fence, Flying Lotus [aka Captain Murphy], Gaslamp Killer) and kush-clouded rap (Freddie Gibbs, Schoolboy Q, Madlib, Alchemist, Roc Marciano.)
That's not to say that drug use necessarily makes for better music. But the surfeit of sunshine and sativa seems to mesh well with the institutions in place that foster creativity (Dublab, Low End Theory, the Smell, the Alchemist's lab, the myriad taco stands).
Earlier this year, I choose my best albums of the first half of 2012, by Ab-Soul, Sun Araw & M.Geddes Gengras, Thomas Barford, Julia Holter, Nite Jewel, Open Mike Eagle, Peaking Lights, Schoolboy Q, Ty Segall & White Fence, and Nick Waterhouse.
Here are my selections for the second half. In the spirit of obscure Japanese poets and pretentious high school students, the albums are broken down in alphabetical order and absurd haiku.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Mature Themes (4AD)
Beverly Hills thrills
Plus psychedelic schnitzel
Sates Pink the wry nymph
Doom meets Odd Future
Flying Lotus pranks us all
The tunes stay trippy
Domo Genesis & Alchemist
No Idols (Odd Future Records/ALC Records)
You want to get high?
Al is every rapper's pal
Domo stays rolling
Channel Orange (Def Jam)
Hearts and taboos broke
Let's go to the pyramid
Gold poles and Grammys
Baby Faced Killa (self-released)
Kush clouds and box frames
The Gary gangsta still deadly
Give him a deal please
Hard beats and Turk Psych
Low End DJ digs deeper
The killer draws blood
good kid, m.A.A.d. city (Interscope/Aftermath/TDE)
The good kid keeps true
Never panders or Gagas
Crowned new West Coast king
Kaleidoscope Dream (RCA)
Or Jim James meets Marvin Gaye?
Just let Miguel be
Veritable Who's Who (Post Present Medium)
Lighten up indie rock
Itchy beard complaints are tired
Try droll post-punk funk
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Gritty New York transplant
Pimps by Beverly Center