Exchanging Flavors with Los Angeles Masala
In the essence of her Dash Radio program, Native Rhymes,
Julie talks new wave punk, Amoeba record dates, and
explains how A Tribe Called Quest and the Native Tongue movement shaped her life.
In December, Julie aka @LA_masala created a grand playlist of A Tribe Called Quest samples titled “ATCQ samples“; an encyclopedia of sorts. The 111-song playlist is part Hip-Hop history, part Tribe stan-dom, and wholly a raw product of a child of Hip-Hop. Julie, of Armenian descent, is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and Hip-Hop Program Director for Dash Radio.
Despite a busy schedule as an accomplished scholar, full-time P.D., and what we would presume is a DM inbox full of thristbuckets pretending to be Hip-Hop heads to catch her attention – booking Julie for an interview was surprisingly quite easy. And the conversation flowed quite naturally:
Hey Julie! We’ve had our fair share of Hip-Hop and political conversations over the years, but is this your first interview for a publication? You’re a pretty busy person. Have you done many interviews?
“Hey Troy! yes we have, it’s been a long time. I’ve done a couple of radio and podcast interviews but this is my first online publication!”
That’s what’s up! Glad I can be your first – for readers who don’t follow you, give a brief history where you’re from.
“I’m one of the rare few born and raised in Hollywood, CA, and still stuck in Hollywood, CA.”
You’re an LA kid like me! You must’ve seen your side of town change so much over the years with all the gentrification in the LA area. I grew up in Inglewood and this new NFL stadium construction is changing things for sure.
Sidenote, your twitter name (@LA_masala) is a reference to Masta Ace’s A Long Hot Summer. How many people actually catch that?
Hardly any. No one actually, haha maybe like 2 people have over the years
So how did you become such a big fan of Hip-Hop? Was it something you were born into or did a relative or friend put you on?
“I’ve been a Hip-Hop fan for as long as I can remember – literally. I was in elementary when I first started listening to Hip-Hop. I give credit to my dad because he would always rap Run DMC and Beastie Boys lyrics when I was growing up so that was my first introduction. Back then I was heavy on West Coast Hip-Hop because that’s all I knew listening to the radio stations in LA.
Unfortunately, back then I didn’t have internet at home or social media to discover new music. So I’d burn CDs my older cousin had and all he listened to was West Coast. Then when I discovered Limewire….then it was on and poppin haha!
I found A Tribe Called Quest, searched similar artists and the rest is history”
I think that early exposure to West Coast gangsta rap might’ve made you even more hungry to hear an MC like Q-Tip and Phife, who were totally different in energy in style. As someone who has lived and studied Hip-Hop, do you have favorite Hip-Hop movement? Is it the Native Tongues? G-Funk era? 90s East Coast renaissance?
“I have a couple of favorite Hip-Hop moments but if I had to pick just one it’s definitely Native Tongues. They brought something so fresh to the hip-hop scene. Positivity, jazz, style, playfulness. Everything about them was so vibrant. Their music was informative without the profanity and vulgarity. But of course, 90s east coast renaissance was huge and so important to hip-hop so that’s definitely up there with Native Tongues for me.”
Your ATCQ sample playlist last month was immaculate. Can you share your 2 favorite samples in Hip-Hop? I assume this will be all ATCQ – lol – so choose 2 from Tribe and 2 from others if you wish!
“Haha you know me so well. This is a tough question!
Ok, 2 of my favorite Tribe samples would have to be Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew” that was sampled in Electric Relaxation and Minnie Riperton’s “Inside My Love” that was sampled in Lyrics To Go. Outside of Tribe, Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “Searching” samples my favorite artist Roy Ayers and my favorite song of his which is also called “Searching”. For my last one I think I’ll go with Donald Byrd’s “Think Twice” that was sampled in “Looking At The Front Door” by Main Source. Dilla & Tribe have sampled it as well. I just really love that song.”
That Electric Relaxation sample is iconic. When I was young, I always remembered Electric Relaxation as the opening intro to the Wayans Bros – haha.
Your Twitter personality is based almost entirely around music. Which leads me to my next question – is exceptional music taste a prerequisite for potential significant others? Or are you willing to educate them? Could you date someone that doesn’t appreciate music the same way you do?
“They just have to love music. It doesn’t have to be hip-hop, as long as they love music. I can show them new artists and they can introduce me to new artists and we can jam together. I’ve come across people who don’t care about music and I find that to be strange because my life revolves around it. If they don’t enjoy it then I’d drive them crazy because it would be playing all day around the house, I’d drag them to concerts and take them to Amoeba records with me every week haha.
It’s definitely a deal breaker for me.”
I definitely expected the cliche “Sure I could date them as long as they’re nice” response. So thank you for keeping it real! My significant other doesn’t understand why I enjoy going to Mad Platter and flipping through vinyls. There’s just a rush you get when you find some rare shit or a gem.
Your music taste ranges from Jazz to Funk to R&B. Do you have a favorite 1980s, pre-Hip Hop album?
” I’m a huge 80’s fan. I really like the new wave/punk era of music. My favorite 80’s albums are anything by Duran Duran (my fav band ever), ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie, ‘Thriller’. Depeche Mode, Human League, Prince, Soft Cell, Sade – so many great artists from that era.”
In 2017 there are SO many new genres and artists growing out of sites like Soundcloud and DJs coming up on Mixcloud. Are there any upcoming artists or DJs you’re excited for?
“I agree, there are so many creative artists coming out of Soundcloud. I’ll be honest, I don’t follow it much because I’ve been listening to a lot of older genres lately, so that’s where my mind is at. But I came across a collective called ‘1234 Creations’ and they’re a group of really talented kids. I’m excited to see what they do in the future.”
Do you have any music plans for the future like DJing or producing?
“There was a point when I really wanted to learn how to DJ. Like on turntables with vinyls, none of that CDJ stuff. I want to know how to scratch and juggle beats sooo bad.
I think it’s one of the coolest forms of art in music. But I just wanted to learn it for myself and not a career. I have a few programs on my computer that I mess around with and make music off of samples I find on my vinyls, but again just for fun. Nothing serious …you never know, though!”
Julie, you know ELBOOMBIP is here to support your pending DJ career! If you’re shy don’t worry we’ll throw a mask on you like MF DOOM and let you go off – ha!
Plug DASH Radio!
“Sure! You can Download the free Dash Radio app or listen online at www.DashRadio.com. You can follow them on @Dash_Radio on Twitter & @DashRadio on Instagram. It’s a radio platform with zero commercials and it’s free. It has over 70 stations of all genres. If you like my taste in Hip-Hop, tune into the Native Rhymes station (that’s the one I program) it’s a lot of 90’s and early 2000’s Hip-Hop and underground music.
Thanks Troy! I enjoyed this Q&A” 💕