Without ever clutching the steering wheel of a ’64 Impala, glimpsing Venice Beach on a Sunday afternoon, feasting on burgers from In-N-Out or chicken and waffles from Roscoe’s, you can feel Los Angeles, the city of angels, ascendant, fallen and every place in between, exuding from Likwit Junkies’ eponymous debut. Native sons DJ Babu and Defari make sure of it.
The album is a cogent collection of Defari’s straight-forward storytelling and Babu’s bottom-heavy beats. Take the sticky throwback track “Dreamgirl,” featuring the captivating falsetto of Mississippi vocalist Dodee Westbeach. Defari rides Babu’s hydraulic hop seriously, slick-talking his heart and groin’s desire. Then there’s the thick thump of cautionary tale “Dark Ends,” where a fired-up Defari welcomes the acute verbals of Rakaa Iriscience (Babu’s fellow member in Dilated Peoples) admonishing all comers to the drug addiction, regular jackings and gang violence that flourish in the shadow of Cali’s picturesque palm trees.
Irrespective of the gunplay, it’s “CA all day” for the LJ’s. On the mournful horn-driven sounds of “S.C.A.N.S.,” contemporary griot Defari lets listeners ride shotgun as he “rock, rock, (his) rims down Pico” and declaims himself a “ghetto-ass, yellow-ass nigga act ignorant/ but only if your little dumb ass trigger it./’Cause otherwise I’m on some super cool as nigger shit.”
Cali’s celebrated sensei takes center stage on “The Good Green,” a guaranteed hit with purple hazers too high to be hampered by Defari’s elementary word play. In fact, double-degreed Defari is accountable for the LJ’s scattered deficiencies by occasionally sacrificing nimble lyricism for linear narration. Which comes as no surprise to the dedicated Defari fan. His 2001 single, “Behold my Life,” sums up his approach to this music shit — an all out obsession for both of these abundantly affiliated hip-hop veterans.