With the myriad of blows dealt to California Hip Hop over the past decade, few ever expected the state’s music scene to bounce back with as much force as it did over the past two years. One of the groups ushering this new and sonically diverse rebirth of left coast Hip-Hop is the three-piece outfit and DXnext alumni Pac Div [click to read]. Comprised of brothers Mibbs and Like and long-time friend BeYoung, Pac Div are hard at work recording their studio debut Grown Kid Syndrome, slated for a release at the top of next year on Universal Motown. This past summer, the trio dropped their critically acclaimed project Church League Champions [click to listen]. They described to DX their mentality during Church League's recording process.
“After we dropped [Church League Champions], we went on tour…and everybody’s been showing us love,” said Mibbs. “A lot of people who doubted us before are listening to our music now like, 'Man, these dudes are really serious about this shit.’ It’s been an overwhelming feeling.”
BeYoung added, “Going into it, it was all about really just showcasing that ambition of having big dreams but having the smallest and humblest of beginnings, like even when you’re at that state of being on the come-up, you still have those dreams…like using the metaphor of basketball, you had those dreams of playing with Kobe [Bryant]…and LeBron James, but you’re starting at the church league. You’re working your way up. You’re starting from the smallest beginnings, but you know you’ve got the biggest dreams. We really just wanted to get that whole underdog theme across because we feel like we’ve got a lot to prove.”
A popular 2009 trend, Pac Div released Church League Champions as a free album. The three emcees explained that while they wanted to give fans top-tier quality music, they didn’t want to over saturate the industry with music. They intend to keep the number of free releases at market equilibrium so that listeners are more fully able to digest and appreciate the music.
“We just wanted to give people a real quality segment of music rather than just your standard mixtape,” said BeYoung. "We’re very savvy about the trends and all of that going on in music, but what we’ve found is that over the years, our situation is a very unique one and we really just figured out how to really work our situation because the way we do things isn’t standard…we don’t over saturate the market with music. We’re usual pretty selective of what we put out, so we make sure to take time to craft out sound that’s really fitting…it’s like Polo or Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein or Louis Vuitton – that quality over quantity and we make sure that when we do put something out, it’s a really big deal.”
The group also discussed their unique blend of Hip Hop. They discussed how they draw influence from California’s extensive variety of Hip Hop acts. Yet at the end of the day, what matters to them as artists is their own unique perspective, something they refuse to compromise.
“The sound’s always been there,” said Like. “Los Angeles has always been a progressive place…[the mainstream] only really gave you one side of [California Hip Hop]. They only gave you the gangsta side. We had groups like the Pharcyde, the Alkaholiks, I mean, Xzibit was killing, Ras Kass, [Hieroglyphics], Souls of Mischief, Freestyle Fellowship – we could go on and on. These groups [existed]…on the west at the time of Snoop [Dogg], [Dr.] Dre, Dogg Pound and Death Row were popping…it’s really a diverse place. Not everybody’s a murderer or a backpacker or no everybody’s conscious. It’s a big mixture [of sounds]…we just try to represent who we are as people.”
He added, “Honesty breeds integrity, so we feel like the [more] that you can be honest to yourself [and] to the people, the better off you’re going to do for yourself in the long run.”
Another new musical style coming out of the west coast is the youth-oriented jerk dance movement. Although the members of Pac Div are not pining to jump on the recent dance craze, they do say that they understand it and appreciate it as a positive and safe outlet in which kids can get involved.
“The whole ‘jerk’ thing definitely has its place right now and it definitely has its crowd, but what we do is like sliced bread: it’s never going to play out,” said Mibbs. “It’s [like] a service that’s not going out of style. What we do is totally unique and is always going to be relevant…so while [jerk dancing] exists, we pay respects to that. We don't do it, but we understand it. Usually, it's like the young kid movement, so as long as nobody's really doing nothing bad and nobody's getting hurt and people ain't shooting each other, I'd rather have them doing that."