Los Angeles was always producing hip-hop; from the start, when rappers like Ice T broke away from the city's electro scene, before NWA revolutionised music and challenged authority, the city of Angels was well-represented in hip-hop. It wasn’t until shortly after, in the early 90s, that g-funk emerged, and the city became truly dominant. The homegrown strain of sun-drenched smoke introduced the world to Snoop, Nate and Warren, revitalised Dr Dre and took hip-hop from a 600 million-dollar market to an industry generating revenue in the billions.
25 years later, a similar haze hovers over the southland. The khakis, chucks and lowriders are no longer as prominent, and much of the misogyny has thankfully stepped to the side, but the essence of classic g-funk is still alive and thriving. Wake up, the west coast is back.
At only 25 years old, Compton rep Buddy is the same age as Snoop Dogg’s g-funk opus Doggystyle, and one year younger than The Chronic. It’s difficult to conceive how someone who spent more of the early ‘90s in diapers than dippin could now be the flag-bearer of the g-funk genre, but it speaks to the timelessness of the music.
The imprint of classic left coast tunes is no more obvious than on the FM dial in Southern California. “We got a radio station in Los Angeles called KDAY and that’s all they play; old school west coast, every day,” says Buddy. “Warren G, Nate Dogg, DJ Quik…”
With the bouncy basslines and high-pitched whines basically imprinted in his DNA, things start to make a little more sense. “I just make the music I like,” Buddy says of the way his sound mirrors the classics. “It’s true for myself, or any west coast artist, that it’s embedded in me. I go into the studio and put it on the mic, and it comes out like that.”
Buddy is one of many young Los Angeles artists drawing inspiration from the classic coastal sound, but with the release of his debut Harlan & Alondra, he has gone from being an artist to watch, to the forefront of the next generation. Moving forward, while looking back.
The phrase ‘pass the torch’ pops up a lot in the comments section of Buddy’s YouTube videos and Instagram posts. His debut album features certified west coast OGs Battlecat and Snoop Dogg, but also artists responsible for some of the best music on the coast today, including Ty Dolla Sign, Kent Jamz of Overdoz and Joyce Wrice. Bridging the gap between the architects and the current practitioners are Mike & Keys, who oversaw production of the project, and have been active in crafting the sound of Southern California since their work on Dom Kennedy’s classic From The Westside With Love, II.
The end product is something so uniquely LA; a diverse palette of flavours saturated in an ever-present blast of Cali sunshine. Perfect for a ride across the 10 freeway headed west or a late-night roll down Sunset. “From the hood to Hollywood,” Buddy says, reflecting on the contrasts of his hometown. “It’s so close to get into some bad shit, and it’s so close to get into some rich, expensive, fancy-ass shit.”
OK look he won’t be happy about being on this list
Like, really not happy.
And it’s true, Jay Worthy is more closely aligned with p-funk, but the reality is most people wouldn’t know the difference between p-funk and g-funk. Much of LNDN DRGS music samples the same '80s funk artists we were hearing in the Death Row era. The lyrics are blood-spattered, in both the gang and gun violence sense, and are seasoned with references to classic rides, cruising to oldies and criminal activity. More than just the music, g-funk's influence is present in LNDN DRGS' album artwork; the cover of their debut Aktive was illustrated by Joe Cool, who famously created the iconic Doggystyle cover art. Jay Worthy will tell you it's p-funk, but it wouldn't be what it is without the influence of g-funk.