Six months ago, I stumbled across a goldmine.
Back in the 90s, a small hip-hop show, Funkee Phlavaz, aired on public access television. Now one might think, New York or Los Angeles would be base to this program but it’s not. That honor goes to the city of Beverly Hills.
That’s right, a city where the demographics are the opposite of what hip-hop was/is. Additionally, it was produced and put on by Beverly Hills High School.
That in itself is fascinated.
But what’s more interesting is the teenager that hosted the premiere episode. His name was Al, known as Mudfoot, a member of The Whooliganz. Now he’s better known as The Alchemist, someone whose music I sort-of like.
When I first discovered he was the host for the first few episodes, I knew I had to check it out.
The episode begins with Al on the steps of the front door at Fred Segal on Melrose. He gives a brief introduction of the show and what to expect on it before pulling the door and heading inside.
After a brief opening piece where Al is shown on top of a car’s trunk and in various settings, Al re-welcomes us to the program by plugging the show’s “sponsor,” Segal, before tossing it to a music video from The Pharcyde.
One thing I noticed was Al’s clothing. Al is dressed in a common style in the 90s: oversized clothes.
Al’s wearing a grey long sleeve shirt that goes down to his knuckles. He layered a light brown vest with several pockets and a maroon baseball cap, which is backwards. Now, if that doesn’t epitomize one of the styles of hip-hop in the 90s, I don’t know what does.
We get several updates from various locations in the store from Al including one where he is sitting down enjoying a cappuccino.
Cappuccino. On a hip-hop show? I don’t know about that.
We get some foreshadowing of the future as a young Al introduces a music video by a young Queensbrigde duo: Mobb Deep. The song was for the DJ Premier-produced “Peer Pressure.”
There has been a lot of history between Alchemist and the Mobb, so it was interesting—and weird—when Al introduced the up-and-coming duo. Six years later, Al found himself on the duo’s fourth album, Murda Muzik, producing two songs including “The Realest.” And they’ve continued their working relationship and developed friendships.
The show was amateur-ish but it was interesting because it was produced by an entity I wouldn’t expect to. Plus, it’s always good to check out the past and how things first started.
So, thank you Beverly Hills High, and whoever dug this up, for this gem.