Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"the horsemen"

*Shout out to my dude Denske a/k/a Culture. He inspired me to write this drop for his site, after a brief convo we had about the Lo-Life movement's impact on the West Coast. Check him out, they active over there.*


I've always dug New York dudes.

I think deep down, most Cali cats do. There's just something about the symbiotic polarization between the two that one would have no choice but to find the other intriguing. Those who are/have been a part of this Hip Hop culture (as opposed to just spectating) would agree that the present day West Coast influence that eventually invaded NY is the grandson of the NY influence that affected the West in the 90's. It was that brief vacation that Gang-Banging took, around the Golden Era of our beloved culture. For real, back then, a lot of L.A. niggas wanted to be East Coast cats. Just ask Xzibit.

In 1993, me & my crew were called "The Horsemen", because of the Ralph Lauren Polo logo, of course. All we did was sit at my dude's spot, blaze philly's & listen to NaS, Mobb Deep, Wu & anything else that was hot on the East or affiliated with those dudes. Ice Cube had already made it okay to fuck with the East Coast through "Amerikkka's Most Wanted", so that made it even cooler. Y'all youngsters do know nothing about pre-Eminem Hip Hop. Shit, you couldn't tell me anybody was nicer than Royal Flush & Mic Geranimo back then. We faced ridicule, mockery, even a couple of fights. But we ain't care. These niggas wasn't up on the level of fly that we had ascertained. Camy cargo shorts, unlaced Timbs, any kick Nike dropped that everybody wasn't rocking, football jerseys, fitted hats, backpacks, baggy jeans, & more importantly, all the Polo we could afford (to steal). Those other cats had no idea. They could keep their creased Dickies, Levi's & Converse. Perhaps it was fate, but we even met some NY/Cali transplants who further schooled us on the art of New York City (RIP ReeRee).

We'd heard tales of a similar crew from NY, who we had heard about previously through all the East Coast culture we immersed ourselves in. They were called the Lo-Lifes. We admired what they were about; Ralph Lauren, & being fly no matter what. Even if it meant violence &/or jail time. How gangsta is that? They were before our time, but the same ethos still applied.

My high school was L.A.'s infamous Westchester High (alum includes Regina King & Trevor Ariza). Home of the pretty boys (shout out to 2CMob). It was mandatory that we stayed dipped. The rest of the crew went to Inglewood High (alum includes Paul Pierce). Same rules applied there, except they weren't as pretty as us Comets.

While cats out East were boosting, we were racking. We were already experts at petty theft, since we all tagged together since 9th grade anyway. From Pilots to Mean Streaks to Krylon cans, we stayed picking something up. It was this little mom & pop hardware store by the Fox Hills Mall, where dude was either stupid, scared or a touch of both, but they stayed getting got.

Wes/Disom was from the notorious K(ings)W(ith)S(tyle). So, by association, we were Dubs as well. Once taggers started to emulate the gang-bang lifestyle though, we knew we had outgrown riding grill on the RTD & etching office building windows. The Nothing But Trouble Gang was anybody killa's, & they hated anything associated with a K-Dub. I wasn't trying to catch a slug over hitting' up a bus bench.

Me, Wes, C-Piece, Joshy, Skulli, Dundee & any given spot filler would plan our attacks on a friday night, over 40's, stale weed & beedies for the following Saturday morn. Nordstroms at the South Bay Galleria was our spot. 4 exits & an escalator. Them motherfuckers wasn't catching us! Back then, out in L.A. at least, the upper-scale stores didn't want to bog you down with sensor tags. They figured that young black kids knew better than to come into their stores. Ha! As if. Customer service-minded idiots.

We would stock up on the Polo pull overs, layer up on some khakis & jeans & whoever had the biggest jacket or the quickest legs that day would grab an arm-full of rugby's & break to the '89 Ford Bronco II waiting in the parking lot. Sometimes, we'd grab some Faconnable, Girbaud or Lucky Brand on the way out just because the displays were so neat. Until one day, a security guard got the license plate & informed the Torrance PD about our hustle. After a few hassles from the pig patrol, we know the jig was up. There, anyways. That's when we expanded to Macy's in the Del Amo, which was just as easy but not as exquisite as Nordstroms. Too much security, though. C-Piece got caught once, & his Moms had to go & get him from mall-jail. Dumb ass rent-a-cops never even checked the shirt he was wearing. The nigga STILL came home holding something.

We carried on for about 2 years, staying fresher than the duck sauce niggas who waited on their parents' paychecks & tax returns. We never got caught with too much, but we sure had our fair share of foot chases, which as any 'Lo Head knows, ain't easy in a pair of deck shoes on freshly waxed linoleum.

Once we graduated, cats got jobs & just started buying their clothes, except for Wes. This cat got hired at a Ross in Hollywood, & we'd go pick him up & eventually began to help ourselves while we waited. Needless to say, Ross' Polo is nowhere near Nordstroms', so it wasn't worth the risk, not as grown ass men.

I don't even talk to those dudes anymore like that. Long gone are those days. Occasionally I'll see one of them in traffic, but its nothing more than a 5 minute brag-fest about what our kids are up to. Never do we talk about how we lived the "real" hip hop life, during it's Golden Era. Stealing shit, taking drugs, drinking Old English 'til we threw up, defacing public & private property, the endless freestyle sessions. If we do talk about any one specific event, it's the time we snuck into the House of Blues in Hollywood to see Rae & Ghost perform. Sick. These niggas came out in darkness wearing miner's helmets, complete with working lights. A definite throwback to what it is nowadays. Hell, half the time I'm not even quite sure if the "Hip Hop" culture still even exists with these kids today. Or maybe I'm just getting old.
Sometimes I tell my son stories about growing up when it was okay to rebel against the system & shit. When everybody was scared to be the same, as opposed to looking clones & mini-them's on purpose.

Hopefully, I'm not filling his head with nonsense that he'll emulate. But, then again, I guess that wouldn't be so bad after all.


Capital G said...

I had no idea the Lo-Lifes made it out west. Them muthafuckas was associated with D-Cep (Decepticons- shout out to Heltah Skeltah) I had to have a good laugh at this one. One of my favorite past times in highschool was hitting up every mall with in an hour's drive and boosting the most expensive clothes I could find. I didn't even care about style most of the time, as long as the price tag was ridiculous it was as good as gone. The kid had to stay fresh, even if a mall had to take a loss. No mom and pop stores though, that would've been fucked up. Good read Mr. Grand$, this one brought back memories and a smile.

Daywalker said...

Good read man. Followed you over from XXL. Will definetly keep up on ya blog though.

somebody said...