By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
Kids are going crazy out in Los Angeles. Every month it seems a new opus emerges from the region: Aloe Blacc's Shine Through, Georgia Anne Muldrow's Olesi: Fragments of Earth, Daedelus's Denies the Day's Demise, Ta'Raach's The Fevers, and Flying Lotus's 1983. These recordings don't reinvent the rules of soul, rock, and hip-hop so much as ignore them.
"I've seen it get real hot, and then cold," says producer Daddy Kev (a.k.a Kevin Moo) of the L.A. underground movement. His label, Alpha Pup Records, which he runs with his girlfriend, Danyell Juriel, bridges two eras of L.A. progressive music. In the Nineties he owned Celestial Recordings, which supported the Project Blowed-powered hip-hop of Awol One, 2Mex, and other Shapeshifters, as well as his drum 'n' bass forays.
"At this point," he says, "it seems like we're riding a high wave. There's definitely a sense of community out here that's wider and more beautiful than I've seen in quite some time."
Alpha Pup's bread and butter is its digital distribution system. It works with more than 40 labels, from Westbound Records (classic Seventies home of Parliament Funkadelic and the Ohio Players) to Gold Standard Labs (the alt-punk imprint owned by Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta). Its own catalog is equally diverse, and includes releases by Northwest queercore rappers Scream Club, L.A. freestyler Subtitle, and electronic dandy Daedelus.
"We're very all over the place," says Daddy Kev. "But it's still urban music."
Last month Alpha Pup issued Fill the Heart-Shaped Cup, a beautiful ambient recording from Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Niño is a criminally underrated producer whose affiliations include Dwight Trible and the Life Force Trio, Hu-Vibrational, and Ammoncontact, among others. As a composer and session musician, Atwood-Ferguson has played with Gnarls Barkley and Norah Jones.
Daddy Kev is particularly keen on edIT, a hot producer and DJ. "A good portion [of my fans] know me from playing out live and don't even know of my last album, which came out on Planet Mu and is real mellow IDM stuff," edIT says. On his MySpace page, he edits and mashes up cuts by Snoop Dogg and Usher. "[My new album] is way more dance-floor oriented," he continues. "I don't even know how to describe it genre-wise. Dance-floor hip-hop? I don't even know what you call it, man."
Certified Air Raid Material, edIT's new album, will drop on Alpha Pup in September. He'll appear at WMC along with Niño and Atwood-Ferguson, giving people a peek at the vibrant world of L.A. sounds. "At WMC, we're trying to put our strongest foot forward," says Daddy Kev.