After remastering their 1991 debut album, To Whom It May Concern, Freestyle Fellowship — the legendary rap crew from Los Angeles made up of Aceyalone, Myka 9, P.E.A.C.E., and Self Jupiter — is being nominated for a Grammy.
The “Best Historical Album” nomination is the first ever for any rap album in Grammy history, and comes a little over 30 years after the group released their solo project as a grassroots, independent effort (they released a 30th anniversary remastered version of the album in 2021). In a time and region underscored by gangsta rap, G-funk, and record sales, the Freestyle Fellowship was largely built on collaborative community, long term friendships, and artistic willpower. What most defined the group is not only their lyrical dexterity, but their commitment to an authentic, do-it-yourself spirit that can often elude the most commercially successful rappers.
Highlighted by their free-flowing, jazz-inspired cadences and multi-rhythmic flows delivered in obtuse ways — whether rapping slightly off beat, meandering in and out of alternating patterns, or coming in at rapid fire bursts — the Freestyle Fellowship helped to build the West Coast’s underground movement, drawing inspiration from East Coast boom bap, spoken word poetry, and the socially explosive world around them (thanks largely in part to the lauded Good Life Cafe, and it serving as a space for the Fellowship and others a part of LA’s ‘90s alternative hip-hop movement).
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