Tyler, The Creator of Odd Future performs at Hollywood Palladium on September 29, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
After nearly a decade of relative quiet (following a dominant and era-defining run in the ’90s), Los Angeles is in the middle of an urban music resurgence led by a creative crop of young artists marked by their social engagement, commitment to touring and independent approach. And now, after building brands and buzz on their own, many of them are cashing in. Last year, the Odd Future collective led by frontman Tyler, the Creator and including breakout singer/songwriter and R&B star Frank Ocean turned an online following into a distribution deal with Sony RED (in March, group compilation The OF Tape Vol. 2 debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 with 40,000 sold), as well as a development deal with Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, which resulted in hit show “Loiter Squad.” Los Angeles producer Chauncey “Hit-Boy” Hollis signed with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music and delivered his breakout hit-Jay-Z and Kanye West’s chart-topping “Ni**as in Paris,” which reached No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
And earlier this year, Los Angeles indie Top Dawg Entertainment inked a joint distribution deal with Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment for its flagship artist Kendrick Lamar and his Black Hippy crew (rappers Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul). “No one is waiting for the major labels or radio,” Top Dawg Entertainment president Punch says. “The L.A. area needed an example to follow. When you’re true to yourself, there are people all over the world that can relate to it. Our messages are spreading.”