New West Week: Diary Of The L.A. Hip-Hop Scene

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By Steven Roberts

New West Week, spotlighting the re-energized L.A. hip-hop scene, is under way at MTV News, and when I originally pitched the concept of a New West Week I didn't have much of a big, grandiose plan.

I noticed that there were a bunch of young, up-and-coming artists in L.A. who didn't have much in common other than the fact that they weren't of the N.W.A/Dr. Dre lineage and were being overlooked. But the main reason I wanted to go out to Cali was because I thought Odd Future and Casey Veggies were dope.

I didn't know much about either act before last November. I'd seen a bunch of reviews from their Webster Hall show and our rock editor, James Montgomery, even stopped by to talk to me about them. I was familiar with some Mellowhype tracks that I had heard on a few blogs, and I only knew Tyler, the Creator from a remix of N.E.R.D's "Inside of Clouds" he'd done. I didn't know that those guys were a part of a larger group or even that Tyler rapped.

I checked out Tyler's Bastard and instantly became enamored (pause). Having grown up with my mom, I could personally relate to what Tyler was saying over the ominous pianos of the album's title track. I didn't see the world as dark, but I understood his anger and appreciated his creativity. The second track, "Seven," reminded me of all the hood-rat sh-- I did growing up with my misfit friends. We weren't nearly that creative – though equally dumb - but it's awesome to see kids like us succeed.

My co-worker, CJ, would put me onto even more stuff, and we knew we had to get these kids on MTV if only to laugh about how we'd gotten them past the censors. While I was working on a pitch to get CJ and me to L.A., I heard a song by another L.A. artist that caught my ear. Casey Veggies' "Ridin' Round Town" was a refreshing take on being young in the city

I stayed in L.A. last summer for vacation, and I found it to be a city full of vibrant personality. And I felt like "Ridin' Round Town" represented that more that Dr. Dre's "Kush," which had also come out around that time. "Kush" was far from Dre and Snoop's best offering, and it didn't give me much gravitate to. I knew then that I needed to get out to L.A. and meet these up-and-coming acts.

By the time I got out to L.A. in February, Odd Future had begun their East Coast tour. I was unable to link up with OF (CJ and the group are now best friends, however), but I did get a chance to meet Veggies at the Trap House in L.A. It was always fun to talk to a kid balancing a burgeoning career, touring and his senior year of high school, especially because he was so humble about it. He was fighting back the biggest grin the entire time. But when I told him I liked his song better then Dre's, he couldn't help but smile.