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Coolio’s Sound Master Crew

When Coolio died on September 28, the resulting avalanche of obituaries claimed that he launched his career with WC & the Maad Circle, whose debut album Ain't a Damn Thing Changed dropped in 1991. However, the Los Angeles rapper's career actually began in the mid-80s, when he floated through short-lived electro-rap ensembles like Sound Master Crew, Don Juan, and Nu-Skool. These goofy, protean tracks are typical of an era where nearly all of the biggest West Coast acts of the 90s learned their craft, from Ice Cube and Ice-T to, yes, WC himself. Sadly, the omissions are typical. West Coast electro in the 80s continues to be under-documented, even when it comes to world-famous artists like Coolio.

When Coolio died on September 28, the resulting avalanche of obituaries claimed that he launched his career with WC & the Maad Circle, whose debut album Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed dropped in 1991. However, the Los Angeles rapper’s career began in the mid-80s, when he floated through short-lived electro-rap ensembles like Sound Master Crew, Don Juan, and Nu-Skool. These goofy, protean tracks are typical of an era where nearly all the biggest West Coast acts of the 90s learned their craft, from Ice Cube and Ice-T to, yes, WC himself. Sadly, the omissions are typical. West Coast electro in the 80s continues to be under-documented, even when it comes to world-famous artists like Coolio.

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BLU Magazine

Freedom Archives, an online database focused on progressive and radical historical movements, has documentation on BLU magazine, which was published between 1998 and 2001. While most press at the time limited their coverage of politically minded rap to dead prez and Black Star, the New York magazine threaded between overlapping scenes like spoken word and Afro-Cuban sounds, featured interviews with activists like Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt and Yuri Kochiyama, and dedicated issues to the Puerto Rico independence movement and women’s right. Each issue includes a CD from major names like Tony Touch as well as lesser-known acts like Rico Pabon. All together, BLU’s 14 issues depict a complex hip-hop movement that’s often omitted from histories of the period.

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