This is a warehouse in East Oakland, it’s like a live-work artist loft community, so there’s a real creative, underground, artistic vibe to it. Back in the mid-90s, the Mystik Journeymen used to live there, when they were just starting out. That was the “Unsigned and Hella Broke,” “Independent as Fuck” era. They didn’t even have a label or CDs, all their music was on homemade cassettes. They used to have these Top Ramen parties, there would be like seven or eight underground groups on the bill, admission was a couple bucks or some Top Ramen.
The Journeymen were doing their thing at 4001 for a minute, then their crew moved in—it was the Grouch and Bicasso from Oakland, Eligh and Murs from L.A., Aesop who was from Fresno, and Arata, this rapper from Japan; eventually they called themselves the Living Legends, which was a joke at first. They all started selling tapes up on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, and they had a monthly showcase at this venue La Pena, called “Underground Survivors.” In 1996, I interviewed them for the East Bay Express, I went to the warehouse and it was a trip. They would have all these makeshift domiciles, like three walls and a curtain. It was on some Peter Pan shit, they were like the Lost Boys. But that’s real hip-hop. 4001 was where the Living Legends’ legend started.