Whatever happened to house parties?
We’re not talking about dinner parties here. We’re talking about the classic 1990 "Kid 'n Play comedy, invite everybody from every school in the district, standing room only, hire a DJ and dance till the cops come" house party.
Inglewood rapper Thurz, formerly of underground L.A. rap duo U-N-I, was seeking a venue to debut his 2015 Designer EP and wanted to bring back the feeling of going to that type of house party in the primarily African-American neighborhoods of Ladera Heights and Windsor Hills back in his high school days. And so, Party in My Living Room was born.
In a city with hundreds of performance venues and nightclubs, there is no other function quite like it. The first one took place in Thurz’s hometown of Inglewood, off 108th and Second Avenue. At a more recent one, partiers crammed into the backyard of a huge home in Rancho Palos Verdes, overlooking the sparkling lights of the Port of Los Angeles, and munched on homemade tacos while watching Tiffany Gouché and Tiron & Ayomari perform.
“The idea was just to do a concert inside a living room,” Thurz explains over the phone. The party series is that but so much more, the type of experience that brings curious one-time visitors back again and again. So far, the event has been running for about two years; in that time, Thurz has expanded from Los Angeles to a satellite function at Coachella, all the way to Chicago for the most recent edition of the homey bash.
“I didn’t know if a lot of people would show up or not, but I put the word out, and over 500 people showed up,” Thurz says of the first Party in My Living Room. “I knew I had to continue this. I had my band back me up and they killed it.”
He calls that first show the "all-star lineup," featuring all local artists, including R&B singers Gouché and SiR and hip-hop collective Overdoz. The show was such an instant success that Thurz threw three more parties in three different living rooms that first year, and another seven in 2016. Although 2017 has seen only two parties so far, they were the culmination of an expansion effort that saw Party in My Living Room add Deep Eddy vodka as a sponsor and export its winning formula to the Windy City, with plans to expand to international venues in 2018.
Party in My Living Room is a far cry from the curfew-breaking teen house parties of yore. For one thing, it’d be difficult for a high school–age pack of ne’er-do-wells to secure the official sponsorship of alcohol brands and food vendors, or get a calendar listing on DoLA.com, or get Stance socks to create a special, one-of-a-kind collaborative edition of its intensely popular product specifically to celebrate Thurz’s next-level event planning skills.
Thurz says that finding the houses is the hardest part; it requires a good relationship with the owner, and more than a little salesmanship. He handles the insurance for the events, and says his success is as much a result of luck as his researching and logistical skills. He calls pulling the strings to make these sort of events happen “second nature” after having organized dorm parties throughout his tenure as a student at Loyola Marymount University and helping to create the Dopehouse series for popular rap blog 2DopeBoyz.com.
He pulls performers from his own social circle, or from artists that he is listening to at any given time. “Whoever I’m vibing with," he says. "When I’m in the studio with somebody and I’m listening to their music and I have a party coming up, I hit them up, like, ‘Yo, I’d love for you to come rock, are you down to do a set?’ It always happens organically; it’s never a forced thing.”
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Party in My Living Room has become such a focal point of Thurz’s life that he decided to name his latest album, which he finished mastering on his birthday in August, after the event. He’s recruited local homies such as Fat Ron, Ill Camille and Escro to contribute guest verses, and even convinced porn legend Wesley Pipes to come through for an interlude.
Production on Party in My Living Room comes from J. LBS, THX and C Watts, along with 14KT from Detroit, all of whom helped create a musical palette that digs into the roots of West Coast sounds but advances and pushes the boundaries of that sound. His first single, “Iconic,” the music video for which was filmed in part at a recent Party in My Living Room event, incorporates Roger Troutman–style talkbox, a favorite instrument of Thurz's; he says the rest of the project will use the effect “tastefully” throughout.
From the party to the album inspired by it, Thurz says that what he really wants is for people to enjoy themselves, and to bring back a feeling he feels has been missing from the regional sound, while taking that L.A. party vibe worldwide. “I feel like people will gravitate toward it, pull it up on their Spotify playlists and let it ride from front to back.”