By Tamara Palmer
The legacy of West Coast rap music was celebrated and the 20-year anniversary of the riots in Los Angeles was commemorated on Saturday night (April 28) as several old-school legends of the genre gathered to pay homage to one of the few radio stations in the country that’s currently still keeping the history alive on the airwaves.
In an era of homogenized radio, KDAY 93.5 FM broadcasts West Coast hip-hop classics as its chief focus. It began as an AM radio station in the Seventies and Eighties, and eventually went off the air in 1991. For many, it was the first place they’d get to hear the voices and opinions of what would become Southern California’s biggest hip-hop luminaries, including the world’s most dangerous group, N.W.A
“KDAY is everything,” says Ice Cube, who performed to a sold-out crowd of more than 6000 fans at the station’s annual “Krush Groove” concert. “It’s really the only station still playing West Coast music out here. It’s the only station dedicated and very enthusiastic about the history of LA hip-hop, the history of West Coast hip-hop all up and down the coast. And thank God for KDAY, because without KDAY radio stations forget about the artists that built this style of music real quick.”
After reminding everyone who started this gangster shit via N.W.A’s classic anthem “Hello,” Ice Cube and his Westside Connection cohort WC delivered a set of high-octane hits (“You Can Do It,” “Check Yo Self,” “Bop Gun (One Nation),” “It Was a Good Day”) with a few streetwise curveballs (“How to Survive in South Central,” “Steady Mobbin”).
Earlier, Brooklyn legend Masta Ace, the lone East Coast rep on the bill, used his all-too-brief set time to throw some shine on borough colleagues M.O.P., throwing out some fresh verses over that group’s raucous “Ante Up” beat, while local Ras Kass tried his hand at coining the thugstep style. Pharcyde’s Imani and Bootie Brown nimbly kept up with the seemingly boneless B-boys dancing to their sides while nailing the flow on “Ya Mama” and “Passin Me By,” and Cypress Hill brought the power of a fierce live drummer to help rip through the stoner classics. Serving as the night’s Southern ambassador was Mystikal, fresh out of jail but even fresher out of last week’s headlines (“Nobody likes a rapper with a restraining order!” he joked), which led most to believe he wouldn’t be on the bill. He eschewed performing his new song “Original” for his well-known tunes: “Shake Ya Ass,” “Danger,” and his scene-stealing time on Ludacris’ “Move B**h.”
As the clock struck midnight and the show moved into April 29, Ice Cube asked the audience to remember that the Los Angeles Riots ignited 20 years ago to the day. A host of multiethnic hands outstretched in the air, each with two fingers twisted up in the middle — West Coast style, the way Ice Cube taught ‘em.