Infamous L.A.C. - Riders On The Storm
I first met Smokey Serrano of Lethal Assassins Clique through this website
back in late 1998. He had written down one of his latest lyrics on the
BrownPride bulletin board. I read his words and was impressed with his style, so
I sent him an email giving him props and wishing him success in the music
business. The music "business" can be just as scandalous as the streets.
Smokey had just finished recording a track titled "Faces of Death", and he sent me an advanced copy. I remember the first time I heard it. It wasn't your typical Chicano gangster rap that was so prevalent at the time. This song dealt with not only street life, but the life and death situations that hangs over the varrio like a dark cloud.
I was invited to the studio to kick it with Smoke, and was introduced to the other L.A.C. members Prophet and Flipper. By this time L.A.C. added the thugish-ruggish track "Hit'em Up" and Smokey's introspective song "Tears of a Brown Man" to their musical arsenal.
I had shown Smoke some of Gato's poetry he had written when he was incarcerated in L.A. County. Now, Smokes was the one impressed with Gato's writing style and depth. Smokes was always down to help Raza that had talent and from the streets. Before Gato was released he produced a track to go along with Gato's poem titled "The Hand that Fate Dealt Me". The track come together like magic with Smokey producing an Opera style beat, Prophet on the hooks, P.W. on the background vocals, and Gato doing a spoken word style rap. The song was appropriate titled "Gangster Opera", and is a living testament to each of L.A.C.s unique talents.
One day out
of the blue, MC BLVD contacted me to see what was new. MC BLVD is the rapper/singer that dropped a couple of Latin Rap classics like "I Remember You, Homie", "Never Forget Who You Are", and "Peridome Jefita". Smoke called me right after I hung-up with MC BLVD, and I mention I just finish talking to MC BLVD. Smokey asked if he was still making music. So after a couple of phone calls and getting together a few times, "Confessing a Feeling" was created. A club-style song with Smokey rapping and MC BLVD singing the smooth hooks. Thump Records heard the song and were impressed and soon licensed the song for their Homies Compilation.
Smokey was taking his music to whole new level. He rented a small apartment in Southeast L.A., just so that he could concentrate on his music. He produced "Riders on the Storm", "Twisted Minds", and Immortal Combat" all in this time frame. With Prophet back from his hiatus, Lethal Assassins Clique was hitting on all cylinders.
always appreciated the group Psycho Realm for their talents and for always representing the streets without glorifying gang violence that was endemic both to Pico-Union (Psycho Realm) and East Los Angeles(Lethal Assassins Clique). I approached Jacken, asking him if he was up to doing a collaboration track with the homies from Lethal Assassins. He replied, if he was feeling the beat, he'd do it for sure. Smokey made a couple of underground-style hip-hop beats, once Jacken and L.A.C. agreed on the beat, "Immortal Combat" came into effect. Most MC's chase the beat, but Sick Jacken had the beat chasing his flow. Jacken ripped his verse with one breath and the chorus goes, "when your gun frees a soul/ it imprisons yours, no answer when you're knocking on heavens door/ we're out here fighting this dirty war/ while God and the devil take score for sure". Till this day "Immortal Combat" is one of my favorite tracks, I was present when they laid down their vocals in the Edge Studio in Inglewood. We all could sense no one wanted to be the weakest link, so it brought out the best in them. Producing an instant classic that most fans don't even know about. Like Smokes verse says,"...flowing through your jugular vein/ so feel the pain/ East Los Angeles and Pico-Union leaving enemigas in confusion"
It wasn't too much longer after "Immortal Combat" that Prophet left the group for good to become a Christian. Prophet had brought the hardcore hip-hop vibe to the group with his flow and vibe. Now he was gone and he left behind a large void. Smokey had an album to finish and polish up. He recruited two new members to the now "Infamous L.A.C." P.W. aka Mr. Azteca whom we met through MC BLVD was the Mexican version of Nate Dogg (DPG) that was now featured on the second half of the album with songs "City of Gangsters" and "Tequila & G-Strings". P.W. added a more party type vibe for the B.B.Q's and homie kickbacks.
The newest member to the "Infamous L.A.C." was Rudde Boyy, who added that gangster flow to the clique. He was featured on a solo track titled "California Living" about the street lifestyle of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Rudde Boyy's life was cut short by the same street violence he rapped about. Listening to his song in hindsight now, gives you chills, because he was writing about the only life he knew, the street life.
Each one of us that took part in this project gained valuable insight and experience regarding the music business. To witness a project developing from start to finish is an accomplishment in itself. Very few people finish what they start. The music business can leave you disillusioned and cynical at best, if you let it get to you. Success in this industry is not always based on originality or talent, but who has the bigger bank account, the most connections, or both. The next time you are in the music store shopping for something new and different remember that small independent artist(s) need your support. There is a reason why this music is labeled underground music, it's because the establishment (the mainstream) try their best to control the music industry. But, they can never control the streets where this music is created and lives through each one of us...
Can't Stop! Won't Stop!
Last I heard Prophet
joined Victory Outreach and formed a Christian hip-hop group called God's
Warriors. Gato and Capps branched off and created their own group called Rhyme
Asylum and is being produced by 5th Battalion camp. Gato who goes by the pen
name Gato Suertudo just finished up his book of poetry and now looking for
someone to publish it. Capps was featured on the track "Rolling In My 64" with
Smokey. Smokey Serrano is currently working on his solo album. As for myself,
I'm about to drop my own Compilation titled "The Ollin Project" featuring an
exclusive Lethal Assassins Clique song titled "Street Fighters" featuring Smokey
and Prophet. I'm adding the finishing touches and hope to release it in the near