50 years of hip-hop: L.A. gives the genre KDAY and Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre in black and Snoop Dogg in a blue sweatsuit perform during halftime of the Super Bowl
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg perform during halftime of Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in 2022.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Aug. 11. I’m Vanessa Franko, an assistant editor on the audience engagement team, and my love of early ‘90s hip-hop can absolutely be traced to watching “Yo! MTV Raps” in my childhood.

It was 50 years ago today when Clive “DJ Kool Herc” Campbell played a party in the rec room of a Bronx apartment building. The “Back to School Jam” — organized by Campbell’s sister — featured Herc playing classics from James Brown and the Isley Brothers while he showed off a new turntable technique. And with those needle drops, hip-hop was born.

To celebrate how deeply the art form has affected, well, everything, The Times’ music team compiled a list of 50 game-changing moments illustrating how hip-hop took over the world.


Over six months, the team worked on researching and whittling down the most important songs, artists, technology, clothing, movies, art and beyond that illustrated the genre’s impact.

“We decided to do one moment from each year to celebrate hip-hop. We distinctly decided not to include some of the more tragic stuff that hip-hop unfortunately has a history of — 2Pac and Biggie dying being the most obvious examples,” Music Editor Craig Marks said.

He said the trickiest part was trying to reach a goal of having each artist appear only once.

Although hip-hop started in New York, Marks said one of the rewarding parts of the project was watching “the seeds of hip-hop blooming in Los Angeles.”

Among L.A.’s contributions is the rise of KDAY, the first radio station to play hip-hop on a full-time basis. Reporter Kenan Draughorne wrote about how former music director Greg Mack turned the AM station into a powerhouse, including how two young producers, DJ Yella and Dr. Dre, factored into the station’s success and how KDAY was the first to play Eazy-E’s “Boyz-n-the-Hood.”

“It’s pretty clear that Dre’s the sun and everything else orbits around him here in L.A.,” Marks said.


Obviously, there’s Dre’s contributions to N.W.A and his solo work, particularly 1992’s “The Chronic,” “which really laid a blueprint for hip-hop in the ‘90s,” Marks said. But Dre has also been a mentor to other superstars, including Eminem and Snoop Dogg.

“He’s clearly the most dominant figure in the history of L.A. hip-hop and that’s not even counting Beats by Dre.”

The 50 greatest moments in hip-hop package also includes some deeper dives into the genre’s history:

The big list concludes with Bad Bunny as the entry for 2022, “an indication of the breadth of hip-hop and how far its sound and echoes have moved into other genres or combined with other genres,” Marks said.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California from Helen Li:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


Hollywood pushes the Emmy Awards telecast show back to 2024. As a result of the ongoing strikes by SAG-AFTRA and WGA, Fox announced that the 75th Emmy Awards at Peacock Theatre will move from Sept. 18 to Jan. 15, contingent upon a labor settlement. Los Angeles Times


Nobody scouted her, but she could have been the key talent the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team needed at this World Cup. Nayelli Barahona plays for the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club, a club that does not fit the largely white and overwhelmingly rich feeder system that fuels America’s soccer teams. As she coaches the next generation, she looks at a second chance. Los Angeles Times


Anchorage’s mayor wants to ship the city’s unhoused residents to Los Angeles. After Anchorage closed a mass shelter at Sullivan Arena, a sports venue that housed upward of 500 people during cold months, Mayor Dave Brunson wants to expand a relocation program, but a one-way ticket is not what everyone wants. Los Angeles Times

Meanwhile in Jacksonville, Fla., three counties have reduced their unhoused populations on the streets and in shelters by more than 50%. Although the city is similarly warm, it doesn’t have L.A. levels of street homelessness mostly because it has “the missing middle” housing: duplexes, townhouses and small apartment buildings in walkable neighborhoods. Los Angeles Times


After a homeless man’s car was set ablaze in South L.A., friends and neighbors express anger. While officials have not identified the man, neighbors say that Clay Buchanan, often referred to as tio — uncle — did not deserve to die this way. Los Angeles Times

As hostility around LGBTQ+ rights boils over in various school districts across California, students face a growing number of challenges. Here are the legal protections for kids and their families to to know. Los Angeles Times

To solve California’s challenges, they traveled to Kenya. Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and state Assemblymember Matt Haney from San Francisco traveled to Kisumu County, Kenya, to study universal basic income, a poverty solution they hope to expand in the Golden State. Los Angeles Times


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At least 53 people have died and hundreds of structures have been destroyed in a fire that tore through Maui this week. Thousands have fled their homes as the historic town of Lahaina turned to ash. President Biden has declared a national emergency for the state of Hawaii. Los Angeles Times

San Francisco approves a massive expansion of driverless robotaxis while public safety remains “a concern.Gov. Gavin Newsom’s California Public Utilities Commission approved a measure to let robotaxi companies Cruise and Waymo massively expand deployment of their driverless vehicles on San Francisco streets. Los Angeles Times

Back to school also means dealing with a new COVID variant, Eris. California is seeing a little more than a 10% increase in cases. CBS News Sacremento


Hikers found Julian Sands’ body on Mt. Baldy. Now they share their story. When the British actor’s body was found, hikers were surprised at what they did not see. Now they want to educate fellow hikers about the dangers of climbing in winter without a full set of safety gear. Los Angeles Times

We remember Diana Marcum. A Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter, she gave a voice to Californians whom many people didn’t take time to notice. Los Angeles Times


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Today’s California landmark is Santa Monica, from Elyse Jankowski.

Elyse writes:

Whether traveling by wheels or by foot, the California Incline is a standout landmark in Santa Monica. Connecting Ocean Avenue with PCH, it features a slanted road and pedestrian walkway leading to beach access. The elevation allows for stunning sunset views over the beach.

What are California’s essential landmarks? Fill out this form to send us your photos of a special spot in California — natural or human-made. Tell us why it’s interesting and what makes it a symbol of life in the Golden State. Please be sure to include only photos taken directly by you. Your submission could be featured in a future edition of the newsletter.

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