By Tamara Palmer
A sold-out concert starring Game from an independent radio station that champions classic rap sounds from the West Coast resulted in an evening that showcased the past, present, and future of the culture.
The “Fresh Fest” concert at the 7100-person capacity Nokia Theater in Los Angeles is an annual affair for KDAY, a storied hip-hop station that likes to say it’s “older than boomboxes.” That’s owing to its original history on the AM dial introducing hip-hop to Southern California listeners in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. But this was no quiet storm of an oldies concert, with three generations of West Coast music represented on stage and in the wide-ranging crowd.
Game’s charismatic, money-throwing performance was backed by 1500 or Nothin’, a young, Inglewood-bred band that has also toured with Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, and David Banner in addition to recording their own original music. He also brought out emerging LA stars Tyler, the Creator and Kendrick Lamar to do their collaborations from Game’s recent The R.E.D. Album, which debuted in August and temporarily toppled Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne album from the number one spot.
“Yay Area Ambassador” E-40, who began his music career selling tapes out of the trunk in the late 1980s, served up a set encompassing classic 1990s songs like “Sprinkle Me” and “1 Luv” and the hyphy-era “Tell Me When To Go” with current West Coast favorites “My Shit Bang” and “Bitch.” He paid homage to the late Nate Dogg with their duet “Nah, Nah.”
The bill also featured homegrown talents such as 2nd II None, WC, and Mack 10, the latter noticeably slimmer after undergoing intestinal surgery earlier this year, but also included artists who are deeply influenced by the music from the region. Nashville’s Young Buck dedicated a portion of his short set to one of his greatest influences, Tupac Shakur, by letting Shakur’s “Hail Mary” play, and also teased the crowd to sing the chorus of the Luniz’ Bay Area classic “I Got 5 on It.”
Chicago’s Twista released his first album in 1992 (the same year he was crowned the fastest rapper in the Guinness Book of World Records) on a now defunct Los Angeles-based record label called Zoo Entertainment; back then, he was still known as Tung Twista.
“I actually got my start out here on the West Coast,” Twista said, “so it means a lot to me to be here.”
“If you’re not from LA, you wouldn’t know what KDAY means to us,” explains Mack 10 of the station’s importance to keeping the continuum of the culture alive. “It needs a stronger signal!”