Sleepwalking in Leimert Park with Co$$, L.A.'s rapper on the periphery

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For the last few years, Co$$ has been the barbarian at the gates of L.A. rap music.

He’s not affiliated, but he raps as hard as any street rapper. He came in with backpack set idol Blu, but his style has always been too serrated to fit smoothly into that scene. He represents Leimert Park, but not in a strident, flag-waving way. He hasn’t tried to ride the skinny jean, jerkin’ or hipster bandwagons. He has said that his favorite rapper is Rass Kass, and that makes sense.

Raised in Carson, on the outskirts of L.A. County, Kass was perennially on the periphery. He was worshipped by thinking men’s thugs and the Rawkus set before they fully existed in force; his music was avowedly anti-commercial, his attitude cold as ice. Like those he directly influenced, Kass made black and blue rap, unflashy but adamantine.

There are always original ideas, but there are no new archetypes. Signed to the understatedly consistent Tres Records, Co$$ is conscious without being cloying. He can tell you to ‘live now/live loud/and live different. Get insight/get vision/get high/get lifted’ and make it feel like an axiom. There is no corniness; he earns it.

In advance of his commercial debut, June 21’s ‘Before I Awoke,’ he’s releasing the ‘Sleepwalking Mixtape.’ Consisting of odds and sods and excised tracks, it’s unsurprisingly solid. It has no flashing lights or bright colors, but it exerts a brute centripetal force. That’s important too.

ZIP: Co$$ - ‘Sleepwalking Mixtape’


Watch: Co$$ -- ‘Spaceman’ video

-- Jeff Weiss