Starting today MTV News will turn its focus all week on the burgeoning Hip-Hop scene out of California aptly titled “The New West.” Sway and the MTV News team will focus primarily on the variety of talented rappers and producers coming out of the vast expanses of the Los Angeles region.
With Los Angeles being the second largest city in the nation behind New York City, it is no surprise that L.A. will forever be a fixture of cultural lore. And when the greater Los Angeles suburbs and cities are factored in, there exists a rich pool of iconic landmarks, must-see destinations and neighborhoods forever immortalized in verse by many of the city’s celebrated rap artists in past times.
No visit to L.A. would be complete without taking in Hollywood, the place where the well-known “Walk Of Fame” can be found and also home to many of the film and television industry’s top studios. With the legendary and looming Hollywood sign nestled high in the hills of Mount Lee, the landmark has long served as a familiar beacon to visitors of the beloved city.
For foodies, the city is a haven of great eats and L.A. lays claim to one of the most infamous food combinations ever introduced. In the mid-70s, Harlem native Herb Hudson boldly opened a soul food restaurant in Hollywood. Named “Roscoe’s House Of Chicken and Waffles,” the odd pairing of a traditional breakfast item with deep fried chicken took hold in the city. A must-visit destination, “Roscoe’s” now boasts five locations in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Roscoe’s has also been mentioned by west coast greats like Snoop Dogg in verse as well as the late Notorious B.I.G.
With “The New West” focusing on the music scene, a drive over to 6400 Sunset Boulevard is a must where one will find the massive Amoeba Records store. Originally opening in 1990 in northern California in the town of Berkeley, the Hollywood location is nearing it’s tenth year of existence this coming fall. The independent record chain is known for having not only a bevy of mainstream music releases, but also serving as a hub for independent and DIY acts looking for a place to shop their wares. Highlighted artists during “The New West” week including Casey Veggies (peep the Casey Veggies Mixtape Daily edition), Nipsey Hussle, Black Hippy, Kendrick Lamar, Rej3ctz, Odd Future, Dom Kennedy, Pac Div and Tyga have all applied the DIY work ethic to their own individual movements, sharing a similar goal.
Los Angeles isn’t all glitz and glamour however, and many of the town’s past rap greats have depicted neighborhoods riddled by crime and drugs along with the other harsh realities of urban living. The cities and areas of Watts, Long Beach and most notably Compton in Los Angeles County have had their share of musical focus in the annals of west coast rap.
In 1988, a nation was forced to recognize “Hub City” – when rap quartet N.W.A. blasted their way on the scene with the smash “Straight Outta Compton.” Unflinching in the stark portrayal of gang violence and police brutality, N.W.A. crafted a snapshot of a time in rap history that will never be denied. Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar and rapper The Game both fly their Compton flags high.
Watts, nestled deep in southern L.A., was a once bustling city ravaged by riots in the 60s. In 1972 the Wattstax music festival was documented and released as a film a year later, and was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1974. Black Hippy rapper and former gang member Jay Rock calls the area home as does R&B singer/actor Tyrese Gibson.
20 miles south of downtown LA is Long Beach, home to Snoop Dogg. The port city too has seen its share of crime and gang violence. It was also the hometown of deceased G-Funk crooner Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale and rapper/producer Warren G who both along with Snoop Dogg formed the trio 213. Actor Nicolas Cage, Slaughterhouse rapper Crooked I and rocker Zach De La Rocha also call Long Beach home.
Southern California is also known for its many stretches of beaches, but none are as widely known as Venice Beach on the western end of the city. A popular tourist attraction, it is also heavily visited by natives of the city who jog and cycle alongside the bevy of people there to check out the infamous Ocean Front Walk – a two mile stretch of boardwalk featuring everything from circus performers, dancers, entertainers and an eclectic mix of attention-seekers.
Stick with us all week as MTV News turns the spotlight on the New West, including a special edition of with Cali’s own Tyga on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET on MTV.com. We’re bringing you the next wave of hip-hop acts helping restore faith in the L.A. rap scene. From groups like Odd Future to rising MCs like Dom Kennedy, we’ll bring you up close and personal to these artists as they carve their own lanes in the post-gangsta rap era. Keep it locked here for the next week for more on the West Coast up-and-comers!