L.A. Story

The upside of being jobless is that you can essentially treat the whole week as a weekend. Meaning that, should you find you need to be in Los Angeles for 30 minutes on a Tuesday (as I did recently), you can make a vacation out of it, using the better part of the work week to take care of business and, more importantly, visit friends and see the sights. You might as well, right? I mean, it’s not like you’re gonna get fired.

I took just such a trip this week, and—a surprisingly brutal Fulbright interview notwithstanding—had a really great time. In between kicking it with my old roomates, beasting on Armenian food with my relatives, and hitting Disneyland (for free) with one of the badder b*tches I know, I had several minor revelations which, compiled, really capture the essence of the entire trip. Here they are, in no particular order, for your reading enjoyment.

DJ Khaled is the most ridiculous figure in Hip-Hop.

My old roomate likes to work out to Khaled’s “Go Hard,” which in all fairness is a pretty tight song. It boasts a decent verse by Kanye, T-Pain at his most outlandish, and a pummeling track that gets you pumped and seriously ready to “go hard” (whatever your own definition of that may be.) However, as Alex was blasting this shit in the car, I found myself focusing on the song’s contradictions, especially as they applied to hip-hop’s favorite rotund Palestinian. Just how, I ask you, is Khaled going hard? He doesn’t rap, he doesn’t produce records, and he doesn’t (at least on any of the songs I’ve heard) do a damn thing on the turntables and mixer. With that in mind, one can’t help laughing when Khaled screams “I’m goin’ in!”—twice, no less—only to pass the entire song over to Kanye and T-Pain. I love the way he says it, too; it’s like he just can’t wait to start not doing anything. The best thing about the phrase, though (that is, when one delivers it like Khaled), is its versatility:

I’m goin’ in! To Walmart! To buy some shirts!

I’m goin’ in! For open heart surgery! On Wednesday! YEEEAH MOTHER@#$%ER!!!

Or (and this is just too good to pass up) when you’re about to smash. Just as you’re about to slide inside,  why not let your broad know with a nice loud “I’M GOIN’ IN!” She’s bound to thank you for your consideration. Trust me, I’ve tried it.

No, really, I have.

In case you were wondering, Tupac is the greatest rapper of all time.

A radio station drop actually said so verbatim, as a lead-in to ‘Pac’s “I Get Around.” I’m not saying there isn’t a case to be made for such a statement, but only in LA will you hear a pre-recorded drop that tells you so outright. Which is weird, considering ‘Pac was from Oakland (and that a Bay Area station would never make such a claim.)

This is by far the best song by which to enter the Disneyland parking lot.

Especially considering Disneyland can make you pretty horny. Seriously—there’s just something about all those dark rides and the illusion of danger.  I remember my boy used to have Mercedes’s album in middle school. I don’t know anything about the music, but who could forget that cover?

Thats right, the album is called Rear End. Get it?

That's right, it's called Rear End. Get it?

E-40’s “Hot” is a very underrated song.

My freshman roomate, black though he may be, has never been a huge fan of hip-hop. In fact, Willie Biddings isn’t too crazy about music in general, and the few songs he does like (and listen to obsessively) range pretty evenly between rock, rap, country, and the “NBA On NBC” theme song (seriously, he burned that shit to CD.) However, when I copped E-40’s Breakin’ News and brought it up to the dorm, Willie went absolutely apeshit over “Hot,” a song that previously hadn’t stood out to me at all (I was fucking more with “Quarterbackin'” and “Gasoline.”) Soon Willie had the whole floor jamming to this obscure album cut, while he worked feverishly to memorize and recite the lyrics in time to the song (not an easy feat, considering the sheer volume of slanguage crammed into each bar.) Willie did it though (he even turned the song into the best voicemail message I’ve ever heard) , and on Tuesday night he proved he hasn’t forgotten a line as we all rapped along in Alex’s Toyota. I gotta thank him for pointing out how dope “Hot” is; no one ever talks about the song, but it really is damn entertaining. One of the many overlooked gems in 40’s catalog.

On The Subject of Strip Clubs…

No reunion with my college roomates would have been complete without a trip to the strip club, especially considering one of these dudes was practically clinically addicted to Spearmint Rhino throughout most of college. So on Tuesday night, the boys and I cut out “free admission” coupons from three copies of LA Weekly and hit up the Rhino for old times sake. But of course, circumstances had changed since college. I was dead broke, for one, and had vowed not to buy a single dance, two-for-one or no. Our recovering addict, meanwhile, had gone straight, and promised his girl he wouldn’t get a dance (or a handjob, something he’d once procured from strippers with an almost scary rate of success.) Also, we there on a Tuesday night, and the scarcity of patrons made us targets for the eager dancers, who at our stubborn refusal to spend any money basically got mad and called us scrubs (understandably, I might add.) But I could have dealt with that were it not for the horribly ill-advised music playing throughout the night. Linkin Park? Green Day? Really? How the fuck are you not gonna play hip-hop at a strip club? Strippers are supposed to dance, are they not? Hence, their insistance on being called “dancers,” rather than strippers. But if you play shitty rock music, I’ve found, all the dancers do is crawl around on stage. Not a lot of fun to watch, and less so when you know you’re not buying a dance from anyone. The stage show is the only form of entertainment you’ve allowed yourself, and when it sucks, you start to wonder why you came in the first place (oh that’s right, you came to look for Mercedes, the “dancer” who gave your boy a BJ last time he came.)

In short, don’t go to the strip-club on a slow night if you’re not planning on trickin.’ You will just be harrassed and made to feel like a loser (when really you’re being smart for not throwing your money away.) And club-owners, stick to danceable music. Otherwise, your strippers are going to have to start calling themselves what they are: strippers.

And finally…

LA Radio Beats the Bay

I used to fault L.A. radio for not supporting local artists, but to be fair, I was mostly criticizing Power 106 (which, I was reminded this week, still fucking sucks.) But I gotta say that after listening to my friend’s presets and turning the dial myself these last few days, I’m pretty impressed by L.A. radio as a whole. There’s just a lot more variety in terms of station profiles. My favorite was K-Day, which specializes in old school R&B and hip-hop. While KMEL only plays oldschool rap for like 1 hour a day (the odd throwback record excepted) L.A. has a station that is doing it all day. I may be wrong about this, but there also seemed to be more variety within each station profile. Our R&B station, for example, plays a pretty predictable mix of today’s and yesterday’s hits. A lot of great music, sure, but after a while you notice a lot of repetition in the playlist. L.A.’s KJLH, on the other hand, was playing a good amount of old R&B I’d never heard before, including lots of 80’s electro like the cut below.

Electro has always seemed like one of those “you had to be there” genres. I’d love to be an expert, but it seems like you’d have to do a lot of digging to really get informed, with not a ton of internet information to aid you. If you went clubbing a lot in 1984, however, you probably recognize a song like “Take a Chance” instantly. Anyway, it’s nice to hear records like this mixed in with the standard Gap Band/Michael Jackson/Smokey Robinson “old R&B” playlist of most retro soul stations. KISS FM should really take note.


3 Responses to L.A. Story

  1. ltothec says:

    come back!! we miss you already!!

  2. stretchcorleone says:

    This is quite possibly your best post yet, man. The strip club story in particular had me rollin’.

    And that Mercedes album was somewhat entertaining. “I Can Tell” was probably the best track, though.

  3. Max says:

    This is a great post. Brings me back to the old USC stories I would hear years ago.

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