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A brief (and by no means complete) history of Black Los Angeles. Happy Black History Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 30, 2012 07:19pm | Post a Comment
Los Angeles' black population is relatively small compared to the city's other major racial and ethnic minorities. The LA metro area is only 8.7% black as compared to 47% Latino (of any race), 28.7% non-Latino white, and 14% Asian/Pacific Islander. However, since its inception, black Angelenos have always played a major role in LA's history and culture. Los Angeles is one of the only major US cities founded largely by people of black African ancestry. When it was still a Spanish colony, Los Angeles began life as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles on 4 September, 1781 (well, sort of). Of the 44 pobladores who ventured over from nearby San Gabriel, a majority of 26 were identified as having African ancestry.

BLACKS IN MEXICAN AND EARLY AMERICAN LOS ANGELES

Pio Pico
Pio Pico ca. 1890

During the period that Los Angeles was part of Mexico (1821-1840), blacks were fairly integrated into society at all levels. Mexico abolished slavery much earlier than the US, in 1820. In 1831, Emanuel Victoria served as California's first black governor. Alta California's last governor, Pío de Jesus Pico, was also of mixed black ancestry. The US won the Mexican-American War and in 1850, California was admitted to the United States. Although one of America's so-called "free states," discriminatory legislation was quickly enacted to restrict and remove the civil rights of blacks, Chinese, and Native Americans. For example, blacks (and other minorities) couldn't testify in court against white people. 

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Fakin' The Funk: Bait Rap Cases in which Cops Create Fake Rap Businesses to Entrap Criminals

Posted by Billyjam, January 24, 2012 08:45am | Post a Comment
No doubt you're aware of Bait Car - the engaging popular reality TV show on the truTV channel that follows, via tiny hidden video cameras, the exploits of opportunist car thieves who can't pass up the temptation of an empty unlocked car with its engine idling & keys clearly in the ignition crying out "Steal Me!" Of course, as the show's title implies, it is merely bait laid out by police as part of an elaborate entrapment scheme. This entrapment approach as a means of catching "bad guys" has become increasingly more common by law enforcement agencies in recent years. Examples include the NYPD entrapment scheme in which the cops planted "drunks" asleep on subway benches apparently with their wallets or purses open to thieves. Another example that, like Bait Car made for good reality TV, was the predator entrapment practice that would become popular Chris Hansen hosted TV show To Catch A Predator. Two recent cases of entrapment, that would have made for some interesting TV viewing, are two specific cases by law enforcement that are stranger than fiction and each involved rap music as bait.  The two cases, both highly complex and involving approximately one year each, took place in Washington DC and in the UK one and four months ago respectively.  

As reported by several news and hip-hop outlets last month in Washington DC cops along with ATF agents wound up an intricate one year undercover sting operation that entailed agents posing as “music industry insiders” running a "fictional rap label" and amounted to authorities  making numerous arrests and confiscating over $7.2 million in drugs and 161 weapons. The DC sting, which began in November 2010 and went to great lengths to ensure results, involved D.C. police creating the Manic Enterprisess studio in Northeast Washington, even going so far as to create for the fictional label the fictional rap artist Richie Valdez. (Note that unfortunately - and oddly - no images or music reviews or website links seem to exist of this fake rapper.)  Next, reportedly, agents then told the underground world and black market that they were seeking to purchase weapons and drugs which resulted in money, drugs, and weapons: 161 firearms including a rocket launcher, 29 assault weapons, 80 pounds of methamphetamine, 21 pounds of cocaine, 1.25 gallons of PCP, 24 pounds of marijuana, and undisclosed amounts of heroin and ecstasy.

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Compton - Los Angeles County's "Hub City"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 23, 2011 07:03pm | Post a Comment
***The following blog entry contains strong language and is intended for mature audiences***

Painting of Compton

This edition of Eric's Blog is all about the CPT.  Where? Compton. That's right. To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here.

INTRO

Seal of Compton California

Compton is an infamous city that is practically synonymous around the world with the South Los Angeles region in which it's located. Due in large part to the mythologizing and glamorization of N.W.A. and their gangsta rap followers, Compton has also become a byword for urban squalor and gang violence even though (not to make anyone feel old) nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the release of "Straight Outta Compton" and the city has, naturally, changed a great deal in that time. Nevertheless, the media continues to exploit the aging and increasingly irrelevant image as if Compton is frozen in time. Recently, a program on The History Channel hilariously claimed that "going to Compton is a death sentence for non-blacks." Not only are most residents of Compton non-black Latinos, there are small but visible groups of Belizeans, Filipinos, Koreans, Samoans and Tongans.

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Mobo Records - West Bank's Finest

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 15, 2009 06:05pm | Post a Comment
Mobo Joe Records Label
In the old days (the '80s), most New Orleans rap was released by labels from outside the state. Dallas's Yo! had handled Gregory D & Mannie Fresh and Tim Smooth. Ft. Lauderdale's famous bass label, 4 Sight, released Ninja Crew's "We Destroy." Juvenile was initially on New York's Warlock. When majors got involved, they invariably mis-handled the artists. Gregory D & Mannie Fresh moved to RCA; Warren Mayes and pioneering west bank rapper MC Thick signed to Atlantic.

All that changed following the bounce explosion of 1991. New Orleans's long established Soulin' Records finally got into the rap game, releasing DJ Jimi's debut single, the bounce classic "(The Original) Where Dey At?" Seemingly overnight, a number of cottage industry labels sprang up, including Big Boy, Cash Money, Parkway Pumpin, Slaughterhouse, Take Fo' and Untouchable. None of them except Cash Money lasted into the new millenium. But for a time, they collectively produced and recorded some of the most overlooked and greatest rap of the decade and routinely outsold nationally-promoted rappers of the day, helping turn the tide toward the south.

Eazy-E Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 7, 2008 01:10pm | Post a Comment
Happy Eazy-E Day, a holiday observed over in Compton by order of the mayor. I'm not sure what customs are attached to the day so I'll just share my Eazy-E story.



I first heard Eazy-E back in 1988 when I was in junior high. Even before I heard him, I'd heard of him. Back then, new music was still mostly disseminated by word of mouth and the trade of mixtapes. Our computers were Apple ][es and the internet was still just one of Al Gore's fantasies. The only rap they played on the radio was harmless (but fun) stuff like Whodini, UTFO and the Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff. But just looking around the school hallways it was obvious that there was more to the hip-hop world than what got played on the air. Kids wore enormous clocks around their necks like Flava Flav of the airplay-denied Public Enemy. When teachers distinguished me from another Eric by referring to me as "Eric B.," the question "where's Rakim?" often followed-- uttered by a savvy classmate. The rap that most people listened to as far as I know (with the exception of Ice-T, Too $hort ) was either from the East or South Coasts. Then, seemingly overnight, kids started wearing Raiders and Kings gear. A wind picked up from the west...



One day around that time, my younger brother Evan and I were out riding bikes down past Bill Wolf's property. Bill Wolf was kind of a big man out in the country who built a lot of homes, owned a lot of land and used to shoot copperheads-- plus he claimed to have seen panthers in the woods behind our house, long before they were officially verified to have returned to the area. I remember the tar on Old Mill Creek Road used to bubble in the heat and pop under my Schwinn's deliberately swerving tires. There was probably the loud buzz of cicadas in the air. Down by Mill Creek (where I used to try to catch crawdads) Evan (riding our sister's orange 3-speed) found a chewed up, discarded cassette by the bridge. He said that the tape was unraveled and draped across some weeds. It was labeled "Eazy Duz It." I got excited at the opportunity suddenly afforded us to listen to something we probably wouldn't otherwise hear. Evan wound the tape back up with his finger and took it back to the house.

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