Positively Hip-Hop

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

For many, the hip-hop scene of South Central Los Angeles conjures up the often negative images of gangsta rap with all of its “guns, bitches and bling-bling.”  For those in the know, however, there is a whole alternative realm of hip-hop to sample in the form of Project Blowed.

Project Blowed is the creation of hip-hop artist Aceyalone and has been in existence for over a decade.  Aceyalone, real name Eddie Hayes, has been performing in LA since the mid-1980s.  At the same time as N.W.A. were creating the style of music that would later gain notoriety as gangsta rap, Aceyalone was forming Freestyle Fellowship with several friends.  The group attempted to combine hip-hop and rap with jazz and even African rhythms.  After the underground success of their first, independently released album, “To Whom It May Concern” (1991), the Fellowship released “Inner City Griots,” on Island Records in 1993.  The album did not achieve major commercial success, yet was considered by many to be ahead of its time.

During this period, Aceyalone was also hosting a weekly open-mic session where anyone who wished to could get up in front of the crowd and rap, DJ, read poetry or otherwise perform.  The event was originally held in a health food café called The Good Life, but as the crowds grew larger it moved to a venue on Leimert Boulevard, which Aceyalone named Project Blowed.  Many of today’s successful rap and hip-hop artists hailing from LA did their first public performances at Project Blowed.  The project has been so successful that in April of this year, Decon Records released a CD and DVD set titled “Project Blowed: 10th Year Anniversary,” featuring a concert and a short documentary.  Decon Records co-founder Peter Bittenbender is enthusiastic about Aceyalone’s work with Project Blowed.  “It’s a really community-based organization,” he said.  “If you go down to Leimert Park, there are hundreds of people outside and they’re battling, rapping, doing poetry, spoken word, etc.”

The project has also spawned a national tour, which stops at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz on Thursday.  The show will feature performances by Aceyalone and his fellow Project Blowed Artists, including:

Whatever your particular tastes, if you are a hip-hop fan Thursday’s show promises to be a real treat, showcasing music by some of the most creative talents on the LA scene.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, May 5, 2005

Back to Articles List