This feature was originally published on July 1, 2015.
What do Roger Troutman, Jerry Heller, and LAPD Chief Daryl Gates have in common? Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that without them there would be no such thing as L.A. rap.
Los Angeles may be the metropolis where international cultures are imported, assimilated, then sold back to the world on the silver screen, but its rap scene is the product of a highly specific set of regional factors, including, but not limited to: The Raiders, Randy’s Donuts, the Roadium swap meet, the World On Wheels roller rink, KDAY every day, freeway transit, auto culture, Latin culture, gang culture, riot culture, bass culture, and burger culture.
From Long Beach to Glendale, Venice to Pomona, the L.A. rap landscape is as interconnected as its highway system, as diverse as its scenery, and as reliable as its climate. Herein is a selection from the rap ecosystem’s first 30 years with equal consideration given to the pre- and post-Jheri-curl eras. It's presented in one place for your convenient perusal, in emulation of the swap meets where Dr. Dre first circulated his cassette mixes. So sit back, relax and strap on your seat belt as we turn to page FREAK, because this is Complex’s 100 Best L.A. Rap Songs. In the words of William Mulholland, the man who brought water to Los Angeles: “There it is. Take it.”