"The earliest record I have on the playlist is a record by Starrjamm from 1981," said San Diego's Steven Flex, a long time hip-hop enlistee who started DJing in 1985.
He explained the process behind the songs he put together for the San Diego History Center's I'm Not Like You exhibition -- a look into the roots of the city's underground punk, skate and hip-hop scenes.
For his part, he compiled local sounds from the '80s and '90s by acts like Mid City Crew, the Green Eyes, Magic Trick, Gangsta Ern, D.B.X, Tony Da Skitzo, Pimpin' Comprehension and Ace Fly Duce/Fresh.
Some tracks weren't as difficult as others to find: "The '80s stuff, it was easy, because there wasn’t a lot of rap coming out of San Diego, so I included most of the releases that I had [or] know about," Flex said.
But for the later material, he had to cast a wide net -- even do some digital digging: "My main focus for the '90s stuff was to cover as much ground as possible and include as many crews/groups that were active (releasing music) in the scene. So, for instance, someone like Madd Joker appears a few times on the playlist, because he did songs with various other emcees including 3D, Masters of the Universe and others. I tried not to miss anything, including the cassette only releases I didn’t have, so I went on Bandcamp and purchased mp3s from Milky Wayne, Orko and Mr. Brady that I felt were essential."
So why is it important to showcase songs from the scene's formative years? According to Flex, "Even though San Diego rap hasn’t blown up, we can still acknowledge and pay homage to the folks that paved the way."
Makes sense, and what does he hope visitors will take away from the exhibition?
"That San Diego music and art culture has untold stories that need to be shared and documented."