Inglewood has gotten its share of love over the years, courtesy of rappers including Mack 10, Dr. Dre and Tupac, but few have been as joyous, infectious and vivid as Becky G’s new single, “Becky from the Block.” The track features the young rapper honoring her neighborhood with a series of snapshot rhymes about life in the southwest Los Angeles town -- all performed to an updated riff on Jennifer Lopez’s hit, “Jenny from the Block.”
Released in early April, the video is as pure a love letter to Los Angeles life as you’ll hear: She raps in front of the L.A. Forum, beneath the iconic Randy’s Donuts sign, name-checks Oak Street Elementary School, the Inglewood cemetery. “I still walk to the Kelso Market/even though I get to walk down the red carpet,” she raps, then offers further details. “My family lived in my grandpa’s garage/So I started working just to help out my pops.”
The Mexican American rapper is only 16, but she’s got some big names supporting her. She’s signed to Kemosabe/RCA Records, the Sony Music-backed imprint founded by hit-maker Dr. Luke, and though “Becky from the Block” is only her second single, she’s appeared on tracks by will.i.am, and Kesha, the latter of which featured her in tandem with Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J.
She doesn’t need famous rappers for “Becky from the Block,” which has earned nearly 2 million views since the video was released. She rhymes about an L.A. life that “all started when my grandpa crossed over,” and when she does this Becky touches her grandfather’s shoulder as he plays dominoes on a patio. She then sings of her desire for a different kind of crossover. She raps from the checkout counter of the Kelso Ranch Market while the proprietor counts money behind her.
All the while she notes Inglewood landmarks. While cruising in a mini dunebuggy, Becky grills would-be doubters: “What you know about the In-and-Out lots?/And what you know about the 405 drive?” The teenager addresses the perils facing any potential suitors: “If you want to date me you have to ask my daddy/And my 30 uncles you can meet them in an alley.” And when the song moves into a break replete with old-school turntable scratches, Becky G moves into a simple mantra: “Inglewood, Inglewood, Inglewood.”
The song winds down as a Chevy lowrider convertible rolls up for a big reveal: Jennifer Lopez in the passenger seat. Becky hops into the back and rolls away, basking in the glow of a track that’s as honest an ode to the city as Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.”
Groundbreaking? Hardly. The young rapper's rhymes aren't going to win any rap battles, but she certainly shows promise. As a pure celebration of home, heart and lifestyle, though, "Becky from the Block" knocks it out of the park.
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit