This Electro Funk Jam Put The California Love In Tupac’s Classic (Audio)
Certain records beyond Hip-Hop are forever associated with the genre due to their influence upon it. Thanks to 1970s park jams, songs like Jimmy Castor Bunch’s “It’s Just Begun,” Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican,” and Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern” are indelible threads in the fabric of the sound to come.
Out West, artists like George Clinton and his Parliament and Funkadelic brain-children, Zapp, and Debarge informed the sounds of everybody from Dr. Dre and DJ Quik, to Tha Luniz and Too Short. One artist whose impact upon the music is palpable is Ronnie Hudson.
A native of Washington, D.C. Hudson would be a player with Go-Go pioneers Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers before relocating to Stax Records headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. There, Hudson would work on two of Hip-Hop’s most beloved sample sources, Isaac Hayes’ The Shaft Soundtrack and Black Moses.
By the early 1980s, Ronnie Hudson would still be playing Funk—but integrating new technology. In the land of sunshine, Hudson made a 1982 single that would cement his solo identity. Using many of the same hotel and luxury shout outs from Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” Hudson sampled Zapp’s “So Ruff, So Tuff” and made his funky take on a West Coat Dub-plate. “West Coast Poplock'” by Ronnie Hudson And The Street People was wildly reactive to Hip-Hop. In the lyrics, Hudson shouted out seminal Los Angeles, California AM Black radio station KDAY and its beloved Program Director Greg Mack. The lyrics also bigged-up cities like Compton, Watts, and others—alluding to the gang culture, but also the rich humanity.
The Birdie Records single (later bootlegged extensively on compilations) would become the basis of one of Dr. Dre’s biggest productions: 1995’s “California Love” and its remix. Hudson sampled Roger Troutman’s Zapp, and Dre (and Tupac, whose All Eyez On Me carried the record) brought Troutman into the song. However, the chorus was all inspired by Hudson’s shout-outs. Thanks to GTA: San Andreas and The Social Network, the song lives on as a roller-skating, low-riding jam that embodies Southern California cool.
Two years ago, Ronnie Hudson released his West Coastin’ album featuring some of the artists he influenced. Snoop Dogg, Too Short, and Richie Rich are just some of the indie album’s guests.
#BonusBeat: Ronnie Hudson’s “West Coast Poplock’ 2020” featuring Snoop Dogg, Rappin’ 4-Tay, E-40, Too Short, Celly Cell, and more: