HipHopHistory: Good Life Cafe & Project Blowed

SOURCE article „livin‘ the good life“ by Nicole Balin

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Project Blowed article by Abstract Rude

Post Good Life Cafe era : circa 1994

The Good Life history is well documented. A legendary open mic Thursday night gathering called Underground Radio took place at the health food store on Crenshaw Blvd. around the time 1580 KDAY AM radio was cancelled. Thus, the title Underground Radio (by B. Hall & son, RKane Blaze) to keep the voice of the L.A. streets going, but the Good Life name mainly stuck in people’s heads and became known worldwide.

A few groups got record deals with majors out of the Good Life attendees: Freestyle Fellowship, Volume 10, Jurassic 5, Pharcyde, Ganjah K, Abstract Rude & Tribe Unique, I Smooth 7, Medusa (S.I.N), Ahmad & Skeelo among them. Good Life rappers were known for their inventive styles and unique lyrics, most notably those of the group Freestyle Fellowship: Aceyalone, Mikah 9, Self Jupiter & P.e.a.c.e & DJ Kiilu (1st to be signed to Island Records in ’92 Innercity Griots.)

After FF temporarily disbanded in 1994, they returned home to the Good Life where the 2nd generation of their legacy was blooming. Aceyalone began to network with his homies the Nonce, Dolla Holla and Spoon Iodine, also with up & coming Good Lifers CVE, Abstract Rude & Ellay Khule for collaboration recordings. Other Lifers like DJ Fat Jack & Digiak were integral in their roles as producers of demo recordings for groups ATU, Funky Trend, S.I.N., Ghetto Godz, Figures Of Speech, DK Toon & Lil Juggsta. Obviously, a post-Fellowship era was dawning, and became official with the conception and subsequent production of the 1st Project Blowed compilation.

Somehow, Acey & Ab Rude teamed up & became the organizers & joint executive producers of the compilation (1st released on cassette.) Ab had influence with producers Fat & Digiak (having the same manager as both) which lead to the free usage of their studio facilities for whatever the project required. Acey gathered demo songs from half the groups, Ab gathered the other half as well as photos of everyone for the collage album cover. CVE worked just as hard to contribute material and add extras to the mixture, while maintaining the sound system at the Good Life every Thursday.

The A-Team used whatever money they had from savings, loans (thanks to Point Blank Mag) and Pawn shop visits to press up a cassette single, then full length cassette of the Project Blowed compilation. They began to sell the tapes hand to hand mostly at the Good Life on Thursdays. It was these tapes that were heard by executives and lead to Capitol and Grand Royal Records signing both to solo deals in Dec.’94 and Feb.’95. A-Team would later use record deal money to repress the comp on cd & dbl vinyl – Damn it felt good to see people up on it!

Leimert Park Era : circa 1995

While working on their solo debuts, both Acey & Ab ventured south on Crenshaw to Leimert Park, a mostly African-American owned business district/cultural center where lots of chess is played and Jazz can be heard live at cafes and smaller pubs. JMD, drummer for the Underground Railroad (classic FF band from Innercity Griot fame) had often invited MCs down to 5th Street Dick’s and the World Stage (Leimert Park cafes) where he‘d encourage them to jam with og players like Billy Higgins, Horace Tapscott (RIP) and Nedra Wheeler.

It seemed like a natural progression for the youth to move closer to the elders in Leimert Park. Enter: Kaos Network & Ben Caldwell.

Ben’s building is on the corner of Leimert & 43rd. Back in the day (’80s) it was the location where I-Fresh was held, which was a hip hop workshop for youth, teaching them performance art & multimedia. Prior to ’95 it was loosely used by the LA Breakers for Phunky Circle, a b-boy/freestyle dancer event, but not much had gone on there in a year or so – it seemed shut down & lifeless. Enter: The A-Team.

„Acey had the idea for us to start a new open mic spot“ says Ab‘: „one with no censorship (still not sure if that was a good or bad idea.) He approached Ben who was down with it, and after a few meetings with Acey, Ben, me & CV we all agreed to give it a go. Cheatum & CV shack holding down sound of course, Choo Black of Legion as our host and Acey & me as the referees in the beginning: breaking up fights and mediating battles, riots with the police – the whole 9! It took us a while but we finally got the homies & the cops to respect our spot as sacred ground, and do whatever we could to make it better and make it last. And it has….10 years later; this December is our 11th anniversary!!!!“.

Ben Caldwell has been our guiding light for community framework. Kaos Network the facility wouldn‘t exist without his dedication to the enhancement of youth minds, and without the contributions of Stack, our chief carpenter who built Project Blowed with „a hammer and a few underground MCs!“.

The Saga Continues : 10 years later

The legacy of the Freestyle Fellowship continues. With FF, Volume 10, Medusa & Jurassic 5 was the 1st generation. With CVE, ATU, Of Mexican Descent, Rifleman, Funky Trend & Awol One came the 2nd generation. With Bus Driver, Cypha 7, Otherwise, Pterradacto, Jizzm, Subtitle & Acid Reign came the 3rd. So now generation next is Customer Service, Dumbfoundead, Aspect One & Middlemen.

Aceyalone now finds himself as CEO of Project Blowed Recordings, aiming to spawn the legacy into the new millennium of hip hop. Project Blowed’s 10yr anniversary compilation was recently released, showcasing the entire family on various group songs & wicked collabs. Check for the new Blowdians killing it with the veterans in true style. Plans for a new generation project are already underway. One thing’s for certain, no other crew can boast such a reoccurring talent pool era after era. Most crews end with their least known MC/DJ/Producer, but because of our crew structure around the Thursday night workshops, we‘ll always have new fresh dope talent from southern California on deck!

Tried and tested through the years, the MCs of the Blowed family have a resilient work ethic and continue to make their way in the world of music. Not only has their influence spread across the nation, its spread across the globe. Abstract Rude & Bus Driver have enjoyed the most success after Aceyalone in album endeavors, and both have considerably stepped up their international fame with UK, Swedish, German, Aussie & Canadian releases & abroad touring. Medusa has also toured extensively and had acting roles in feature films & TV shows. Rifleman Ellay Khule’s latest lp, Califormula, is out now on Project Blowed Recordings featuring production by Omid & Nobody with guest appearances by Blowdian MCs. Best of The A-Team cd/dvd will be released March 7 th ’06 – it’s gonna be the sickest dvd ever!!!!

Stay tuned cause it ain‘t over till it’s over….fool!

Abstract Rude

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Project Blowed Documentary (16:37 minutes) off the Bonus DVD (+ Concert+ Music Videos) of the Project Blowed „10th anniversary“ Compilation. Interviewees include: Aceyalone, Volume 10, Brother J (X-Clan), Akil (Jurassic 5), 2mex, Planet Asia, Sunspot Jonz (Living Legends) etc.