California is a big, long state. Its a unique place because the populations are split by hundreds of miles of relatively, uninhabited farm land in the middle of the state- which literally and figuratively divides Northern from Southern California. Since 1977 I’ve moved back and forth between San Jose, San Diego, Fremont, San Rafael, Irvine and points in between. One particular move stands out in my mind.
In 1991 my pops got a job promotion to become operations manager for Northwest Airlines which required us to move from the Bay Area back down to San Diego. I was entering the 8th grade. I was young, but already a certified Hip-Hop head. I loved Hip-Hop so much I literally performed my oral report on “White Fang” to the cadence and flow of Geto Boys’ “Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me”. This year I remember my tape decks stayed full of Chubb Rock, MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Public Enemy, and De La Soul. Still, I remember this funky, quirky video on Rap City called “Mistadobalina” by this cat Del the Funky Homosapien off his debut album “I Wish My Brother George Was Here.”
It got some airplay but not to the extent of the aforementioned artists. Still, I dug it. At the time I didn’t know he was from the Bay Area- specifically Oakland. I didn’t know he was Ice Cube’s cousin and part of Da Lench Mob and doing some ghostwriting and production for Cube and Yo-Yo. Del wrote Cube’s “A Gangsta’s Fairytale”, produced “Alive On Arrival” and and was the brainchild behind “Jackin’ For Beats”. Obviously we had no idea Del would go on to lead one of the most prolific underground Hip-Hop crews in history- Hieroglyphics of Oakland, California. Ironically, 1991 was the same year another underground crew was finna bubble. Freestyle Fellowship.
Freestyle Fellowship is the flagship crew representing the Project Blowed collective of Leimert Park, LA. In ’91 they released their debut album “To Whom It May Concern”. Their alpha MC, Myka Nyne, had written for NWA back in 1987 under the moniker Microphone Mike. He is credited on the track “Scream” and from what I heard, he is responsible for a second, ghost-written track.
Actually, I don’t remember hearing any Blowedian joints until Volume 10’s anthem “Pistolgrip Pump” in 1993 and Aceyalone’s “Mic Check” circa ’95. Looking back, there were surely some Fellowship videos on Rap City back then but I had no idea they and Volume 10 were both Blowedians and would go on to highlight California’s largest underground team.
So 30 years later, I reflect on this interesting coincidence- that both Del, and Myka have links to Ice Cube. This means one of the Godfathers of West Coast “Gangsta Rap” is directly linked the two biggest underground, alternative Hip-Hop crews of our generation, which in turn, paved the way for many other Cali crews such as Hobo Junction, Living Legends, Daysmen Empire and Epicenter Broadcast. Its so ironic that the most prolific Gangsta rapper of all time helped to develop, inspire and collaborate with some of the most artsy and eclectic emcees of our generation and helped to bridge the Bay to LA. This proves you can’t judge a book by its cover- either side. Cube has written for Del as in “Dr. Bombay” and has ghostwritten for others inside and outside his camp. This goes to show that NWA was deeper and more far-reaching than people may realize and it also means Hiero and Project Blowed aint to be takin lightly!
“7th Seal” – Freestyle Fellowship (Myka Nyne solo and the greatest lyrical performance I’ve ever heard)
“Can You Find the Level of Difficulty in This?” – Freestyle Fellowship