In South Central L.A., the year was 2009 and four emcees joined forces to create Black Hippy. This group consists of four names you may have heard of before, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar & ScHoolboy Q.
Independent label Top Dawg Entertainment was the first to sign the group but the chatter did not stop there. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg of Aftermath Entertainment showed an interest in the group. In 2011, Tech N9ne of Strange Music put in a proposal as well. In March 2012, the group receives a joint venture deal between Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath and Interscope Records. All Black Hippy records will be released under Top Dawg/Interscope with addition, Kendrick Lamar’s would also be included under Aftermath.
Johnny Reed McKinzie Jr. (26 years old) was named one of the Top 13 street artists by XXL. His hustle began with a lot of internet traffic and low quality mixtapes. Hard work prevailed for Mr. Rock as the record deals rolled in. October 16th, 2008, Jay Rock released his debut single “All My Life (In The Ghetto)” which features Lil Wayne and Will.I.Am and produced by Cool & Dre. As far as debut singles go, those are some big feature names. In 2009, Jay joined Nipsey Hussle to support Game’s L.A.X. tour. In 2010, he joined G-Unit and 50 Cent on their Invitation Tour, after that he contributed to the Independent Grind Tour.
Almost three years later and the debut LP is ready for release via Top Dawg/Strange Music. Follow Me Home dropped July 26, 2011 and it featured the likes of Lil Wayne, Will.i.am, Chris Brown, Tech N9ne, Rick Ross,Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. Production from J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, Cool & Dre, Willie B, Tha Bizness and more. The record is a story about coming from the bottom, setting your goals high and achieving them. It was given favourable reviews by various reputable blogs and sites.
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (24 years old) was born and raised in Compton. His all-time favourite rapper is 2Pac. Much like Jay Rock, Kendrick began receiving a fan base over internet based hype. He also joined Jay Rock/Tech N9ne on the Independent Grind Tour in 2010. In the same year, he released the Overly Dedicated mixtape which featured “Ignorance is Bliss” which caught the attention of Dr. Dre.
In 2011, Lamar was featured on XXL’s Freshman cover with the likes of Meek Mill, Mac Miller, CyHi and more. July 2, 2011, Section.80 was released exclusively through iTunes. Without any radio or television promotion, the record sold 10,000 copies in the first week. It features Colin Munroe, GLC, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and more. Production credits by Digi+Phonics, Terrace Martin, J. Cole and more. The album received many positive reviews, Metacritic gave it it 80/100. Pitchfork featured it at number 45 on the Top 50 Albums of 2011, while RapGenius put it number 1.
April 2, 2012 Kendrick Lamar debuted the lead single for his second LP good kid, m.A.A.d city to be released on Top Dawg/Interscope/Aftermath. The single called “The Recipe” is produced by Scoop Deville and features Dr. Dre.
Quincy Matthew Hanley (25 years old) was born in Germany but grew up in Los Angeles. He played football through high school and wore glasses so his boys called him Schoolboy. The Q at the end comes from his first name Quincy. At the age of 12, Q became a Hoover Crip and started gang-banging and dealing drugs. It wasn’t until he was 21 that the music became more of a focus. In 2006, he went to go record with Top Dawg Entertainment where he met his future team mates Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul.
After two free mixtapes in 2008 and 2009, Hanley released his first independent album Setbacks via Top Dawg on January 11, 2011. Features from his Black Hippy cohorts and production from the Digi+Phonics crew. The album received positive reviews but only sold about 1000 copies.
September 22, 2011, Schoolboy announced his second LP via his Twitter feed. There was a strong focus on promotion for this record. Q leaked “Druggies Wit Hoes Again,” “Oxy Music,” “My Hatin’ Joint,” “There He Go,” and finally “Blessed.” Next came the album features via Twitter including A$AP Rocky, Curren$y, Dom Kennedy and the Black Hippy gang. Finally on January 14, 2011 that record dropped and sold 4,000 digital copies in the first week (in the states) and another 4,000 copies retail at Top Dawg Entertainment without any advertising or marketing. The usual suspects of Digi+Phonics were enlisted for production, alone with a few gems from Lex Luger, A$AP Ty Beats and The Alchemist. “Hands On The Wheel” received visuals featuring A$AP Rocky and found it’s way on to the Top Video section on multiple blogs. Currently ScHoolboy Q is on tour with Ab-Soul.
Herbert Anthony (25 years old) is regarded as the underdog of the group. Being the most recent artist, he sat back and watched while the rest of his team received their critical acclaim. At a young age, Ab would memorize Kriss Kross songs and recite them in front of family, claiming a career in Hip Hop as a young pup. His parents owned a record store growing up; which really helped Anthony understand the music industry and grow an appreciation for all genres of music.The nick name Black Lip Bastard comes from a disease he had as a child called Stevens-Johnson’s Syndrome, where he lost a lot of his lip skin and it grew back extremely dark.
Ab-Soul’s first record Longterm Mentality dropped April 5, 2011. Features include MURS, Jhene Aiko, Punch and label mates ScHoolboy Q & Kendrick Lamar. Digi+Phonics handled most of the production. Diverse is the only word that comes to mind when I think about the record. Conscious rap, party anthems, street knocks, and even some experimental tracks. Within the year, Mr. Anthony crafted up a second LP called Control System that dropped two days ago, May 11, 2012. All three of the other Black Hippy crew members are featured on the record including a group remix of “Black Lip Bastard.” Dave Free, Sounwave, Willie B and Tae Beast of Digi+Phonics took care of the beats. The album shows growth from Longterm Mentality and a little more consistency.