Behind-The-Beats-Graphic-LA

Behind The Beats: ​Los Angeles

First up in our hip-hop producers series is L.A. The city has come a long way from its infamous era when rhyme outlaws N.W.A were breaking ground and kicking up dust.  Indeed, the West Coast music scene has never been as eclectic as it is today. 

Hip-hop is ever evolving — a shifting, twisting, force of nature that never stops. Over the last 30-plus years, the Bronx, New York-born art form has become the most influential genre within the pop landscape.  But like other popular music styles, if hip-hop slows down and becomes stagnant for just a minute, it ceases to inspire, to move bodies and minds. Right now, the center of the rap and R&B universe is Atlanta, the leader of the Dirty South, which for much of the ’90s battled for respect against the scene’s powerful gatekeepers. But while the Dirty South continues to flex its trendsetting muscles, the once dominant strongholds of New York and Los Angeles have seemingly found their mojo again. Joining the two influential hip­-hop power­ bases is Chicago, which is currently enjoying a recording renaissance.

It’s an intriguing trio of cities to be sure. Sunshine-drenched L.A. has become perhaps the most risk-taking rap scene around mixing everything from experimental ‘60s jazz to Bay Area and Southern infused 808 beats to create the ultimate curve pitch.  Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, Top Dawg Entertainment’s resident studio engineer, is at the center of it all. The audio magician, who is often cited as Kendrick Lamar’s right-hand-man, is a Los Angeles original.

In Chicago, it’s all about the streets. Kids coming up in neighborhoods on the Southside and the West have built on the homegrown stamped drill music style (think bass-heavy trap but with even more sneering attitude) while hitting more soulful pockets that at times echo The Chi’s old school rhythm and blues sensibilities and house music obsessions. It’s a merging of styles that can be heard in the dynamic production of established duo Flosstradamus (Travis Porter, Kid Sister, Diplo, and Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J).

And New York? New York has steadily regained its bigger-is-better, concrete jungle swagger by embracing its storied past and mammoth sound (at the moment, Fat Joe’s and Remy Ma’s soaring, horn-paced “All The Way Up” has completely taken over dance clubs in the Tri-State area with a heavy nod to East Coast hip-hop’s hook-driven sampling goodness). Producer powerhouses like Harry Fraud hold it down in NYC booking studio time with hip-hop heavy hitters like Action Bronson and Joey Badass.

You want more? VIBE is taking a deeper look with a three-part series spotlighting five producers from each city that are redefining their region with a distinctive, rebellious sound. Some of these ambitious beatmakers are rising studio visionaries, others are respected vets, and some stand at the cusp of superstardom. But they are all worthy of the hype. Turn it up.

LOS ANGELES
First up in our hip-hop producers series is L.A. The city has come a long way from its infamous era when rhyme outlaws N.W.A were breaking ground and kicking up dust.  Indeed, the West Coast music scene has never been as eclectic as it is today. For decades, the land of gangsta rap, lowriders, and palm trees ruled the music charts with G.O.A.T. production visionary Dr. Dre leading the way. Now, Los Angeles is being paced not only by the funk, but jazz ­inflected soundtracks and beat junkie workouts courtesy of such forward­-thinking talents as Flying Lotus. These Cali producers are taking it to the next level.

Knxwledge
Sounds Like: ​Introspective soulful excursions that manage to keep it original beyond slight nods to adventurous, electronic beat man Flying Lotus and the late, great J Dilla.
The Run Down: ​While Glen “Knxwledge” Boothe now calls L.A. home, the prolific studio rat (between 2009 and 2012 alone, he released 117 tracks via Bandcamp and Leaving Records) originally hails from New Jersey. Knxwledge has since seen his stock rise after producing the poignant standout “Momma” featured on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy­-winning, critically-acclaimed 2015 opus To Pimp A Butterfly. Want more? Check out NxWorries’ hip­hop/R&B mashup Link Up & Suede, Knxwledge’s lively EP collaboration with Dr. Dre protégé Anderson .Paak.

Sounwave
Sounds Like: ​Parliament Funkadelic’s iconic George Clinton jamming with the Neptunes.
The Run Down: ​Arguably the most well known studio visionary of our L.A. list of noisemakers, Sounwave, born Mark Spears, serves as one of the acclaimed house producers for Top Dawg Entertainment, home of Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, Ab­Soul, and the aforementioned ubiquitous Kendrick Lamar. In fact, you could put a greatest hits package together just from Sounwave’s work with K­Dot: “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “M.A.A.D. City,” "King Kunta,” and the Black Lives Matter protest anthem “Alright.” Cut the check.

TOKiMONSTA
Sounds Like: ​Atmospheric grooves turned up to 11.
The Run Down: ​Our lone female representative doesn’t take a backseat to any producer, displaying a skill set equally adept at dropping futuristic hip­hop and DJ­ formed instrumentals as she is conducting new age rhythm and blues. The first woman to sign to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder record label, Jennifer “TOKiMONSTA” Lee has twisted knobs and turned in remixes for the diverse likes of Kool Keith, MNDR, Jodeci, and Justin Timberlake. With several EP’s and four albums under her belt (including this year’s Fovere, anchored by the sultry Anderson .Paak featured single “Realla”), TOKiMONSTA won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Drewbyrd
Sounds Like: ​Throwback goodness straight from a ‘90s hip­hop recording session.
The Run Down: ​When Pittsburg emcee Mac Miller wants some straight­no­chaser, sample­heavy joints he hits up Drewbyrd. Case in point: “Break The Law” could easily be mistaken for a B­side of a single from Jay Z’s 1996 landmark Reasonable Doubt. West Coasters Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hussle, and Odd Future alum Domo Genesis have also benefited from the man’s grandiose productions.

Bongo The Drum Ghad
Sounds Like:​ Modern day bangers.
The Run Down:​ The Game’s go-­to producer is responsible for some of the finest moments on the Compton lyricist’s criminally underrated 2015 set The Documentary 2. The Nigerian-born Bongo The Drum Ghad (Uforo Ebong) started as one half of the production duo L&F. After working on a string of R&B joints (Musiq Soulchild’s “Radio,” Trey Songz’ “Y.A.S.,” Omarion’s “Bos$$”) and more rhyme ­tailored workouts (Big Sean’s “Jit/Juke” and “Stay Down”), the cousins split, leaving Bongo to finally pursue his own impressive trek.

 

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It Was Pandemonium: Remembering 5 of B2K’s Career-Defining Moments

At the tail-end of last year, B2K sent the world into a familiar pandemonium following the announcement of their aptly titled reunion, the Millennium Tour. After 15 years, the group came back together to tap into our undying love of early 2000’s nostalgia, reminding fans at each tour stop why the “boys of the new millennium,” were arguably one of the biggest Black boy groups to do it since The Jackson 5.

"We are excited to be a part of what will undeniably be a nostalgic and electrifying performance,” Michelle Le Fleur, COO at Omarion Worldwide, – told Billboard in 2018. "While admiring their solo successes, the fans have consistently demanded a B2K reunion and, with the determination of an incredibly talented team, that dream is now a reality."

In the tour’s latter days, it was confirmed that Raz-B and J-Boog’s ups and downs on the road would be one of a few gripping storylines featured on season six of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood, premiering Monday Aug. 5 at 8/7c, so it’s only right that we celebrate by looking back at a few of the quartet's biggest moments:

Early Chart Dominance

In 2002, the same year that Justin Timberlake launched his solo career and Nelly and Kelly had their “Dilemma,” B2K's self-titled debut album took the R&B world by storm. The album, which boasted the hit singles “Uh Huh” and “Gots Ta Be,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. They’d also join Bow Wow, who was no longer “Lil,”  on the Scream 2 tour on July 25 of that same year.

Pandemonium Ensued

Hot on the heels of B2K’s self-titled success, Pandemonium dropped on Dec.10, 2002 and "Bump, Bump, Bump" peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single became the group's first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 chart and spent a week at No. 1, positioning them to take home the best group and viewer’s choice honors at the BET Awards the following summer.

 

An Untimely End

At the height of their popularity, B2K would announce their split on BET's 106 & Park in Jan. 2004 to the dismay of R&B fans everywhere. Omarion would later state that the decision was ultimately caused by the group’s mutual desire to seek out solo success. “It is true that B2K broke up but it’s not about me leaving or them leaving. It’s about us growing up and wanting to do our own thing,”  he told Jet magazine in 2004.

Omarion Joins Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood

In 2014, Omarion joined the cast of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood alongside Fizz, Ray J, Soulja Boy, and more. The stint would come ten years after the launch of his solo career, during which, he blessed listeners with four albums (O, 21, Ollusion, Sex Playlist) in addition to playing a lead role alongside his former group members in You Got Served.

 

B2K Reunites

2019 saw the launch of the Millennium Tour, which B2K headlined with Mario, the Ying Yang Twins, Chingy, Pretty Ricky, Bobby V, and Lloyd. The tour was an immediate success,  grossing $5 million just three shows into a 25-date cross country stretch. Though initially slated to end in April, on July 11 Drake took to his Instagram to announce that B2K would be making an unexpected final tour stop as co-headliners of his annual Toronto-based OVO Fest.

If you weren’t one of the lucky thousands who got to catch B2K on the road, then VH1 has you covered. Season six of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood airs on Monday, August 5 at 8/7c and will feature behind the scenes moments from the Millennium Tour that you won’t want to miss. In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

This is branded content, produced by our marketing department in partnership with our advertisers—not by editorial.

 

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You’re Invited: VIBE VSessions in Los Angeles with Casey Veggies, Kodie Shane, and Buddy

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Mandatory RSVP at Vibevsessions.eventbrite.com for tickets. Please note entrance is based on capacity so get there early!

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Metro Boomin Rocks Fresh Empire and VIBE's VSessions Feat. YG, Speakerfoxxx, and DJ Jelly

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While attendees laced up with free swag and photos ops, the show kicked off with Southern Style DJ's own DJ Jelly spinning a 45-minute selection of old and new school hip-hop bangers, ranging from legendary rap collective the Dungeon Family down to trap superstar Young Thug. The energy in the room was pure pandemonium leading to the flawless introduction of Speakerfoxxx, better known as “The Queen of ATL.”

“There is no better place than performing at home,” she said while jumping into her set playing an eclectic mix of hip-hop infused electronic records. The Atlanta native made sure concert-goers enjoyed every minute of their escape from the parentals. Whether she was playing the latest from Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi or 2 Chainz, the crowd just couldn’t stop dabbing to the beats.

Speakerfoxxx kept the momentum going for one hour before her close friend and headliner Metro Boomin hit the stage to wrap up the evening. His cult following began shouting, “If Young Metro don’t trust you,” and from that point, the vibe in the crowd skyrocketed to 100 - real quick. It was only right that he began his set with songs from close comrades Future and Drake like “Where Ya A** Was At,” “Jersey,” and the ultimate ATL anthem “Bad and Bougie” by Migos.

Popular YouTube dancers Meechie and Toosi came and kicked it along with upcoming rapper Sahbaii who performed “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick," the latest hit single Metro is co-signing as next to top the charts. West Coast rapper YG also popped up and rapped a few bars from "Who Do You Love" on his studio album, My Krazy Life and more.

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