The Return of West Coast Pioneers Rodney O & Joe Cooley
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A throwback to the days of Fila and Kangol’s, Rodney & Joe Cooley weren’t the first to understand the power of bass, but they were among the instrument’s most prominent disciples. In the days before N.W.A. stole the script of West Coast rap, the DJ and rapper combination dropped 1986’s ‘Everlasting Bass,’ which inadvertently spawned the Miami bass sound.
A quarter of a century later, the Compton natives are reuniting for ‘Joe & Me,’ their first album since 1999’s ‘Veteran’s Day.’
‘Turntablism and marketing [are] real big now. Nowadays everyone’s a deejay. Back when I started out, you could count all the West Coast deejays on one hand. But it’s cool. I like the fact that turntables got this far,’ Joe Cooley told Hip Hop DX. ‘Now looking at where it’s at, from where it came from, I never thought turntables would be this large right now. Everyone is spinning and cutting right now. There’s a million deejays.”
His partner Rodney O can practically trace his roots to Los Angeles’ hip hop genesis. He joined the Caution Crew in 1983 before linking up with Joe Cooley to drop a series of singles on the Egyptian Lover’s Egyptian Empire imprint. Though their local impact was soon dwarved by the spate of gangsta rappers that became one of the Southland’s principal exports, they managed to score a regional radio hit with ‘But You Don’t Hear Me Tho,’ which ironically took aim at their inability to score massive radio airplay.
Admittedly, their new record is unlikely to crack Emmis Communications’ playlist soon, but it’s comforting to know that these two are contributing even though kids say ‘swag’ more than ‘cool.’ In honor of their return to action, here are some seminal cuts from some of the first people to be bassed.
Sample the act below.
— Jeff Weiss