Summer Jamz '08: G'Z Up, Prose Down
1.Parliament-“Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)
2.N.W.A.-“Alwayz Into Somethin’”
3.Dr. Dre-“Nuthin’ But a G Thang”
4.Above the Law ft. 2Pac & Money B-“Call It What U Want”
5.The Dove Shack-“Summertime in the LBC”
7.The Twinz-“Round N’ Round”
8.Snoop Doggy Dogg-“Gin and Juice”
9.2Pac ft. Shock G & Money B-“I Get Around”
10.Mista Grimm ft. Nate Dogg & Warren G-“Indo Smoke”
11.Ice Cube ft. George Clinton-“Bop Gun”
12.The Lady of Rage-“Afro Puffs”
13.Sam Sneed ft. Dr. Dre-“U Better Recognize”
14.The D.O.C.-“The D.O.C. and The Doctor”
15.DJ Quik-“Jus Lyke Compton
16.W.C. and the Maad Circle-"The One”
17. Tha Dogg Pound-“Let’s Play House”
18. Kurupt ft. Nate Dogg-“Girls All Pause”
19. Warren G ft.Nate Dogg & Snoop-“Game Don’t Wait”
20. Warren G & Nate Dogg-“Regulate”
21. Warren G & Nate Dogg-“Nobody Does It Better”
22.Parliament-“P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up”
Radio raised me. Power 106 and 92.3, The Beat, filtering in fuzzy and faint from the battered and bruised transistor, blank cassette in at all times—just in case. “Gin and Juice” and Maxells as madelines and tea, inside my broom closet bedroom, tattered with tapes as trophies. The holy trinity: The Chronic. Regulate
; the latter, swiped from a shuttered Music Plus, purchased by me for a mere $7 from a kleptomaniac, entrepreneurial ex-friend. Last I heard, he’d moved to Northern Arizona
to escape from drug dealers. In the process, he found God and eventually assumed a position in an evangelical Korean Ministry.
Contrasted with the cluttered condo clusterfuck of this last Bush year, that Los Angeles of 1992 seems almost unrecognizable. Back then, South Central, Compton and the land south of the Ten still smoldered, a burn-out husk from the Rodney King riots that had erupted a few moths prior, as though to prove Ice Cube’s point. The city had an almost martial tone to it, there were unspoken boundaries you didn’t cross and “the club” on every steering wheel. Crips, Bloods and Bullets waged internecine warfare* so the shrill sirens of Fox 11 News at 10 told us. Hell, even in the rich parts of town, neurotic school administrators banned Raiders and Kings garb for being gang affiliated, though the closest their students had come to ‘banging’ was the Whack-A-Mole at Chuck E. Cheese.
So maybe Mike Davis was right. Maybe Los Angeles was a city of quartz. But if so, it was about to turn platinum. Thing is, everything changed when The Chronic dropped. The Dre of N.W.A. that “didn’t smoke weed or cess,” was dead, his politics largely muted. Instead, he’d found the good drugs, a stack of Parliament samples and a lanky, ex-Long Beach Crip with a flow ostensibly ordained by God to soundtrack hot and hazy Sunday BBQ’s. The combination was unstoppable and by the time Snoop’s debut dropped the next fall, G-Funk had everyone on lock, from Baldwin Hills to Bel Air, from Compton to Calabasas. You want proof that Jayceon Taylor is full of shit? Because of no self-respecting Angeleno would’ve ever bragged about shop-lifting The Chronic in ’95. What was dude listening to before that? P.M. Dawn? Snap? Jesus Jones?
The story’s rote by now. The big money boom. Suge Knight, the mad villain, burning blunts and Cohibas, glowering at the world from a plush aerie inside a pitch black Wilshire Blvd. skyscraper, the same one shared by Larry Flynt and Hustler, on the corner of Beverly Hills’ restaurant row. Dre turned hip-hop’s Howard Hughes, hibernating deep in the West Valley, obsessed with the unattainable notion of perfection and whether Winstrol could make his biceps as big as his ego. Snoop became more brand than rapper. Warren G got busted for taking Nate Dogg’s advice to be “high like every day.” And as for poor Nathan Hale, that perpetually underrated R&B master, he was somehow felled by a stroke before the age of 40. God knows what happened to Sam Sneed? Drugs. Jail. The PGA Tour?
But for a few short years there, say that stretch from The Riots until 2Pac got shot, G-Funk owned the sound of our summers. Pure California ride music to cannon out of every car stereo, soundtrack every party, the ideal accessory to cheap weed, smuggled liquor and the baking black asphalt. I don’t know what kids listen to today. Weezy? Jeezy? The Game’s compelling but hollow nostalgia? We had it good. After all, who better to make sun-scorched jams than the kids from the real land of the endless summer? Like Nate Dogg and Warren G said, “Nobody Does It Better.”