East Side Renaissance Part II

EASTSIDE RENAISSANCE PART II - "Sojourning in Peace..." part two in a series that documents the events that lead up to one of the most deadliest gang wars on record, and the police corruption that was involved. By Santiago Naphtali

Metro GoldLine from the Bridge towards Chinatown

But first, I must say:

There is a growing Asian population here in the neighborhood. Personally, I think they are a peaceful people and make great neighbors. When the expansion of Chinatown spilled over the L.A. River into this neck of the woods - cultures combined and relationships were formed. Like my friend Sing Boy that lived on the corner, was the best breakdancer on the block. A real flexible cat that snapped gymnastical moves to da beat. His partner was called "Doc", and also lived on Lincoln Park Avenue. They were in a crew with mostly Xicano members called Cosmic City Knights. And that was the epitome of hip-hop culture here in the early '80s. Breakdancing on the corner on cardboard or linoleum; ghetto blasters gettin' attention and making a scene. They were all dedicated to the art form, and the only thing that mattered was the content of the skillage involved, not racial differences. So, there was no tension when everyone was feeling the same rhythm - the drumbeat is universal, man.

When Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 were documenting their New York times, the hip-hop elements were also flourishing in this area. My friends had names like: Kangol, Kid Kazaam, Smerk, and Truce. The writers of the walls had a new style to them, different than the traditional lettering. More modern and abstract. Then, M.C. Ice-T and the Niggas Wit Attitudes were causing a buzz at my jr. high school. Since I was bussed from the east side to the San Fernando Valley for junior high, my classmates lived in different parts of the city. A friend of mine (from Compton) told me she had music from the boys in her hood. She gave me a cassette and wrote the lyrics out for me. And everything changed...

After the chaos that ensued, one had to ask himself, "What's up with all the set-trippin?" And the answer would spark more questions. Those that reasoned the conflicts: who benefited? Who lossed out? Allainces were soon formed with persons and groups of people that suffered similiar conditions, but chose to elevate their consciousness. This transition was also reflected in the music when gangsta rap reach a revolutionary plateau. The materialism, sexism, and drunkeness turned to a more eastern philosophy. Similiar to the Wu-Tang's enlightened House of Shaolin.

Temple on N. Broadway under construction

There was a mural on Johnston Street and N. Broadway (on the side of Big Saver's Market) that visually illustrated this with symbolism. As of this writing, I regret to inform you that it has been painted over; but, hopefully people familiar with the area will remember. On one end of the wall was the Mayan heritage of the Aztecas (Mexican ancestory) and on the other end was a depiction of Chinese histoy - the strong Mongolian race. In the middle was the merging of the Hunab Ku and the Ying and Yang; two different languages- but very much the same philosophy.

To be continued...


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