Despite being born in New York, Everlast was a pivotal part of early L.A. hip hop, joining Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate Cartel before House of Pain, and touring with Cypress Hill. His group La Coka Nostra brings real West Coast heat as well, though his latest project veers toward country. We talked to him about his memory of the riots.
Jeff Chang is the author of Can't Stop Won't Stop, perhaps the most important book about hip-hop ever written. In the tome he explores West Coast rap through the lens of the riots (among other subjects). We spoke with him about how politics and hip-hop affected, and were affected by, the riots.
Today we present all of them together, beginning with a rare video of Tupac Shakur (above) giving his thoughts on the riots, a week after they happened.
Murs is one of the most important and uniquely Los Angeles rappers working, even though he now lives in Arizona. Having made it a point to critique violence in hip-hop throughout his career, he naturally has very strong feelings about the subject of the riots. He spoke to us about the impact they've had on his music and his life.
South L.A.-raised rapper El Prez is all about the city. He named one of his albums Animal Style! after the In-N-Out add-on. On the cover of his 2008 album Prezanomics, he poses in front of the Forum. And on his Tumblr, he forms the initials "L.A." with his fingers. Believing that town's true colors get eclipsed by its Hollywood image, he spoke to us about the riots and their influence on his music.
[Editor's note: All this week West Coast Sound is speaking with rappers and writers whose work has been influenced by the L.A. riots, to coincide with their 20th anniversary on April 29.]
Few speak more passionately on the L.A. riots than rapper Thurz, the former member of U-N-I whose well-reviewed 2011 concept album L.A. Riot features songs with titles including "Rodney King." The work also features clips of residents recounting their experiences, and lyrics detailing the events surrounding the events. We spoke with him about the album, his memories of the time, and other subjects.
Tupac Shakur was a gangsta rapper of the old mold; he called himself a thug, sure, but he was also quite conscious when it came to social issues, particularly those impacting the black community.
The rare video below -- taken one week after the riots at what must have been a softball game, and though conducted in English apparently shown on Dutch television -- might not have seemed like a big deal upon its release. But in 20 years Tupac's legacy has mushroomed, and his thoughts on the city's riots on this anniversary now feel quite significant.