In November 2010, YANIICK "THUZRDAY" KOFFI was in the studio with producer and frequent collaborator, RO BLVD. As one half of Los Angeles' critically lauded subcommercial rap duo U-N-I, along with rhyme partner YONAS "Y-O" MICHAEL, Thurzday had created well-received full-length projects such as A LOVE SUPREME where he furnished Blvd's sonic schemas with rhymes of full of thought, fashion and fun. The chemistry between rapper and producer is evident: Ro's tracks are more... multifaceted, wide-ranging and confidently adventurous, speaking at times to jazzy musicality, at others to grooving industrial mechanism or video game bounciness; Thurzday, for his part, is an ambitious rapper, breaking his bars into fractions with novel rhyme feng shui and original metaphors that span sneaker pimp theory, quotidian travels, gender games and personal identity with aplomb and substance. The ethic between the two has been one of musical respect and cyclical upliftment—feeding off one another, each artist regularly takes the other to new levels of craft and creativity. So when Ro played Thurz a track built around jazzy horn riff, the fact that he was impressed was nothing new.
What was new was the opportunities the music opened within Thurzday. The beat—wide open and sparse, anthemic and definitive, groundbreaking yet accessible–was a rapper's dream: the type of music that demands a statement. He loved it upon first listen. "This could be your 'Exhibit C'," said Ro, alluding to ascendant rap superstar Jay Electronica's Just Blaze-produced lyrical magnum opus.
But Thurzday had other ideas. Though his biological father was from Abidjan on Africa's Ivory Coast, his mother and stepfather were Belizean. And, despite the nation's Central American location, Belize strongly identifies as a Caribbean nation. As a child, Thurzday's uncles were DJ's who constantly filled the house with the rhythms of soca, reggae and dancehall. At four years old, one of these uncle introduced him to DE LA SOUL's seminal 3 FEET HIGH AND RISING—a funny, eclectic and challenging album that would change his life. Given his varied musical heritage, Thurzday knew what music could be and what it could do–how it could unite people, expand borders and say something.
Up until this point in his musical career, Thurzday's output had favored that of his earliest hip-hop influences; in addition to 3 Feet High and Rising, there was REDMAN's MUDDY WATERS, which he rencountered in the seventh grade—both albums influenced him to be funny, hard smart and complex. But something about Ro Blvd's jazz-driven track pushed him further than he had been before. "I need to do something more than just dropping bars," he thought to himself. He decided to give homage to his hometown of Los Angeles. But not just the the narrow, flattened versions served up by pop culture. In order to go beyond the good times, palm tress and the gangsta tropes, he had his fellow Los Angelenos call into his voicemail and leave one sentence definitions of the city. He wound up receiving over 100 messages of civic pride and observation—poetic, straight-forward, sentimental, braggadocios, complex, simple—that would anchor the song in place of hooks. He laid his rhymes as a skilled latticework of street bravado, ghetto art, sports franchises, and social commentary with the individual vocal drops of nearly twenty proud Los Angelenos articulating its borders and Ro's track allowing the space and contrast for it all to be seen and heard. He called the song, simply, "LOS ANGELES." A movement had begun.
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