In 2017 and 2018, the living legend from Watts’ Jordan Downs projects became one of the most organic phenomena that Los Angeles hip-hop had ever seen. His rise was sparked by concrete hymns that he aptly described as, “pain music that’s popping.” However you describe it, Greedo alchemized Baton Rouge gangsta rap with the auto-tuned melisma of T-Pain into something entirely fresh. He could interpolate Rick James and Lana Del Rey on the same song with ease. And while he’s spent the last two and a half years in Texas prisons, his spirit and influence continue to permeate L.A. hip-hop. With a notoriously deep catalog waiting for imminent release, purple summers are forecast every year for the foreseeable future.
With Los Angeles forever mourning the loss of Nipsey Hussle, a legion of young artists has pledged to ensure that the marathon will always continue. Arguably, the brightest star to emerge from that orbit is Bino Rideaux, a fellow South Central native and frequent collaborator and protégé of the late great Neighborhood Nip. During a year spent on lockdown, the Def Jam signee managed to capture the spirit of idyllic freedom with 2020’s Outside. His “Brand New” collaboration with Blxst was a quintessential windows down, riding around town anthem — an ode to shopping sprees, unchecked optimism, and new West Coast soul.
Blxst became the hottest young rapper, singer, and producer in L.A so quickly that you might have mistakenly believed that he came out of nowhere. To do so would obscure a half-decade of indefatigable work ethic and relentless grind. In that span, he’s gone from Soundcloud mixtapes and selling self-designed Eagle Hoodies to becoming a sought-after guest verse for everyone from Compton’s 1TakeJay to Sacramento’s Mozzy. The South Central-born, San Gabriel Valley-raised singer is a one-man hit factory: churning out hooks, beats, and original raps for himself and others (even receiving a co-writing credit on Jack Harlow’s “Yikes” from the Scoob! The Album). One listen to his collaboration with Ty Dolla Sign, “Chosen,” and you can distinctly hear a naturally ordained talent and distinguished lineage. Here are two of the most gifted hip-hop and R&B fusionists of their respective generations teaming up like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
From the Northside of Inglewood, Rucci’s party-starting bark has been one of L.A.’s consistent sounds of the last three years. In that time, “El Perro” has created a catalog of songs for every mood: poignant street narratives that broach his father’s deportation back to his native El Salvador; inspirational testimonies about overcoming the adversity and poverty of his section and bass-heavy, top down subwoofer-rattling bangers to cruise the boulevard.