While cities like Compton, Inglewood, South Central, and Long Beach have historically been well represented in the sphere of L.A. hip-hop. Sections like the Crenshaw District, Leimert Park, have gained respect and notoriety musically over the past 10 years thanks to artists like Dom Kennedy and the late Nipsey Hussle. To put your section on the map is one of the highest honors one can receive not only in music, but life in general. It’s what N.W.A. did for Compton with “Straight Outta Compton” in 1986, what Snoop Dogg did on “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” in 1992, what Mack 10 did for Inglewood on “Foe Life” in 1995, what Nipsey Hussle did for Slauson and the Crenshaw District on “Hussle In The House” in 2009, what Dom Kennedy did on “1997” when he proclaimed himself a Leimert Park legend. Once you put on for your section you are forever embedded in the fabric of it, and can be the thread that connects one generation to the next.
Southeast Los Angeles is a criminally underrated section of the greater L.A. music community. Big $wift is from Downey, California, a suburb of southeast Los Angeles that borders the cities of South Gate, Norwalk, Bellflower, Paramount, and Pico Rivera. Someone rapping from Downey or the lesser known surrounding cities is not unheard of. Norwalk chicano rapper Lil Cuete made a splash in the early to mid 2000’s with songs like “Real Love“, and “When I Die” resulted in him growing a fan base so large at his peak, the Santa Fe Swapmeet could not house it. Aston Matthews, Joey Fatts and Vince Staples all proudly claimed their 562 area code and referenced many Southeast Los Angeles monuments, while being recognized as some of the most talented Los Angeles artists since 2012. Like when Staples said “Just don’t move too fast, I’m too crazy, man down, Downey Ave, and get shaded” on his biographical fan favorite “Norf Norf“. Paramount rapper Swifty Blue has bullied his way on the scene in the past year releasing content constantly and multiplying his fan base by the minute thanks to songs like “Cuerno De Chivo” racking up nearly two million views on YouTube. Cambodia Town’s Stupid Young is a force to be reckoned with and is arguably the biggest artist to come out of Long Beach since Snoop due in part to his international appeal ever since his mega hit “That’s Mando” featuring Mozzy was released in 2018. Saviii3rd is the resilient rapper, synonymous with Eastside Long Beach, (but to be exact his cross streets of 21st street and Locust) who’s risen from the ashes over and over, only to gain more die hard fans with every pain produced lyric like “fuck ’em I ain’t worried, he told me he gon’ murk me, what’s wrong with your murkin?, I’m in my city surfin'”. To reveal where you’re from and represent where you’re from are two completely different things.
“Southeast P” is Big $wift putting his section on the map. He’s represented Downey in his lyrics, videos, on social media since day one, he’s made himself a monument like the original McDonald’s on Florence and Lakewood. However, now he is proclaiming to the world he isn’t an L.A. artist, he is thee Southeast L.A. artist. $wift’s music is the undisputed soundtrack of his section. Helping him craft the sound, is frequent collaborator and fellow Southeast Los Angeles native Saltreze who executive produced the project and brought in other star producers such as Matt Bricks, Cypress Moreno, and 10grand.
The album kicks off with the aptly titled “Downey AirBnb”; this is the song you play to get the vibes right in a luxurious kitchen full of solo cups containing Hennessey, Champagne, and Don Julio as people dance on the sticky floors they will have to mop before checkout at 11am the next morning. “Ghetto & Boujie” is the standout single that shows $wift’s growth as a songwriter, which shows him harmonizing in his verse meanwhile spewing relatable lyrics that will surely make their way to the timeline, assisted by Chris O’Bannon who elevates the song even further. “Perc” is perhaps his stickiest melody yet, the type you’ll be humming for weeks unknowingly whispering to people near you if they will pop a Percocet with you. “Choose Up” displays $wift channeling his inner Young Thug, using his voice as several instruments throughout, singing genius lyrics like “If you f*ck with me girl you gotta choose up”. The album finishes on the nostalgic “My Section” which samples Chingy’s “One Call Away”, a darker song content-wise compared to the rest Swift howls “Can you pray for me? I know that these dark days won’t get away from me, sipping on this mud, it takes the pain from me”. Southeast P ends with a recording of $wift’s close friend’s phone call from L.A. County Jail where he shouts out $wift and his crew and immortalizes the intersection of Foster Road and Woodruff Avenue on wax forever.
$wift captures the essence of what it’s like to be in Southeast LA and deal with gain, loss, love, lust, growth, regression, joy, pain, and still push forward. Maybe that’s what the P stands for.
Listen below on Spotify and on all platforms here.