Stars, classic hits, and just a touch of drama made for a memorable evening this past Thursday [March 21] at Downtown L.A.'s Club Nokia.
Past, present and future generations of artists mostly from the left coast came together to show why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
To a fan of West Coast hip hop, the scene was almost surreal. Veteran MCs like Too $hort and Warren G traded hugs and handshakes as they discussed old times, while up-and-coming artists like Skeme, Problem and Clyde Carson showed fans in attendance how the land of the Big Bear does it on stage.
Unity seemed to be theme of the night and though is was mostly West Coasters, Cleveland was represented to the fullest as Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone hit the carpet together before chopping it up backstage with other members of the Mo' Thug Family, D-Rado, Pozition and Big Sloan, the last of whom is getting ready to drop his mixtape, Exacta Standards 2.
Mack 10, who continues to look younger and healthier, noted that while the west may not enjoy that mid-'90s type of success every year, it would always be a dynasty.
"If it's hot right here, then in the next year or two it'll [stay] hot right here. But history always repeats itself," the "Backyard Boogie" MC told BET.com. "That's the game. the Lakers can't win the championship every year. But that don't mean they ain't one of the greatest franchises ever."
He then took to the stage, where he performed some of the greatest hits from his 15-plus year career, and best believe there was no shortage of Ws in the air for his set.
Warren G hit the stage performing some of his hits from the '90s as well as today before doing a heartfelt tribute to his late friend and frequent collaborator, Nate Dogg. The crowd sang Nate's collection of hits and hooks so loud it rendered the track inaudible.
"It's right where it should be. It's never left. We've got a lot of great young producers here that know what they're doing and are giving great records to some of the biggest artists in the industry right now," proclaimed the OG, who was one of the main producers that helped cultivate that West Coast signature sound.
"This is what we do. We just like to make great music and associate with everybody and spread our sound to the world," added Warren.
We also caught up with Kurupt "Young Gotti" backstage, who proclaimed the West is back where it should be. "I think we're at a total peak. Actually, I can't even say a peak 'cause we're gonna keep going," boasted the Dogg Pound Gangsta member.
Bay Area icons Too $hort and E-40 didn't do too much talking to the press but their performances spoke for themselves. The two, both separately and together, ripped through their list of classics with the crowd singing along to hits like $hort's "Gettin' It" and 40's "Function."
DJ Quik who was the evening's finisher, told BET.com that when the West comes together, it's good for hip hop as a whole.
"I don't know if it's important to the West [specifically] as much as it's important to the world as a whole," said the Compton OG. "When you see unity and movement you should just roll with it," he added.
The legendary producer went on to talk about how even he was surprised by this second coming of his storied hometown. "Compton is the most important mecca of hip hop again. I didn't think I'd see it in my lifetime, just like I didn't think I'd see a Black president. Now Kendrick Lamar is going platinum," he said before going out and showing that after more than 20 years he can still rock a crowd.
Huge props go to Jamie Adler who made the event possible and the illustrious Echoing Soundz PR team.
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(Photo: VVK Photo)