MCA, Mike Mash, Top Dawg Ent.'s ScHoolBoy Q and Ab-Soul
First things first: RIP, Adam "MCA" Yauch. This still bums me the fuck out, like I'm sure it did many of you. The Beastie Boys' influence can't be summed up simply as introducing rap to the suburbs, or as making cats like Eminem possible, because you might not see those as good things. However, the confluence of punk, hiphop, and skate culture that changed the map was totally invented by them (god knows I would never have known Bad Brains or Black Flag were it not for Some Old Bullshit). The culture protectionist hordes might want to grab all their toys and run, but to me, the highest honors are for those who bridge gaps and facilitate understanding, which the B-Boys and especially MCA did to def (from his Tibet Freedom Concert–throwing Milarepa Fund to his Oscilloscope Laboratories distro house). In the wake of MCA's passing, the outpouring of respect, love, and acknowledgment of this crew's influence is, to use his own words, "long overdue."
Shouts to my dude Mike Mash—while out on tour, he made sure we slapped ScHoolBoy Q's Habits & Contradictions several times through, especially its last track, the emotionally fraught Kendrick Lamar–featuring "Blessed." On it, Q conjures visions of Scarface on Jay-Z's "This Can't Be Life" as he contemplates what to say to his homie:
Now how the fuck I'm supposed to say this
You see, my nigga just lost his son while I'm here hugging on my daughter
I grip her harder
Kiss her on the head as I cry for a bit
Thinking of some bullshit to tell him
Like "It'll be okay, you'll be straight, it'll be a'ight"
Fuck that shit, whatever you need, yo, I got it
Whether it's money or some weed or putting in work
Fuck it, then I'm ridin'!
Q, down to spill tears, blood, or whatever else may come in his daily travails, is real LA gangsta shit, no weak Xerox ooh-I-got-some-Dickies-and-an-old-school-Game-type wannabe-NWA cartoon shit, but some 2012 Groove gang shit, repping "Figg St.," aka Figueroa, the notorious stroll once populated by the "Strawberry Showgirls" in Ice Cube's "Robin Lench" skit ("located where?"). In his delivery's DNA you can hear both sides of Tha Dogg Pound, from Kurupt's whooping diagonal dialect to Daz's smooth carbine chop, not to mention a trace of Kanye's belligerent "HAAH." On Habits and his previous album, Setbacks, you'll find the logo of LA's hottest rap indie—Top Dawg Ent., ancestral home of Kendrick, Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock, aka the supercrew Black Hippy. Lovers of West Coast rap have been on a bit of a TDE high for a minute as it is, and there's not a more thorough level of talent to be found in just about any other crew that's emerged in the last couple years. ScHoolBoy Q and Ab-Soul are both at Neumos on Sunday, May 20 (along with our own Logics), and if you're a Seattle-area lover of hiphop, you'd be a damn fool to find yourself elsewhere.