This appears in today’s edition of Refined Hype.

It’s nearing midnight or later on the East Coast. A rousing comedic performance by a comic and his two interview guests have set the stage for an impending performance from a band or solo artist or group. It’s become a late night television staple since the days of Carson and before Letterman had his spot taken by Leno. When one former Saturday Night Live alumnus introduces the next act to walk along the stage, the initial reaction from the crowd is of pure modesty, appreciation that the group was given their due in front of a nationally televised audience.

Five minutes later, the scene of controlled studio room packed with legendary band is now in complete chaos. There are rousing cheers, newborn fans made and a raucous teenager hopping on the back of the show’s host with a toothy grin and a flashy pan towards a Supreme snapback. In less than five minutes, one group had pulled America’s conscious from rap music being a showy, accessible form of 21st century American consumerism back into the dark, angry and always swiveling pivot it enjoyed during the early part of the 90s, before plastic gangsters became Billboard (signs as well as chart) fodder.

That group? Odd Future, fronted by its 19-year old leader and angry voice of a new crowd Tyler, The Creator and Hodgy Beats of MellowHype. Mos Def made a bizarre random appearance chanting swag at anyone in earshot, The Roots looked like members of the Mau Mau from Bamboozled, pure enjoyable chaos. But this isn’t another article about OFWGKTA, their dismissal of horrorcore even though they create some of the more demonic lyrics heard on the same low-fi beats Lex Luger would eat up if he didn’t use a plethora of synths. Rather, this is a story about how the West had done something that very few have been able to accomplish in the era of genre-rap: have the world talking about an entire section of the country & its musical output.

For the first time since the beginning of the NWA train riding into the unmatched highs of Death Row, the West is now the midpoint for great hip-hop, whether it be out there lyricism from the Golf Wang kids or the guttural gangsta delivery of Freddie Gibbs.

The West has something to say: in multiple colors & formats.

For quite some time, the last hip-hop album from the region that captured fans attention for a long period of time has been Los Angeles California rapper Blu’s “Below The Heavens”. Every fan of course has their secular picks, their allegiances tied tightly to certain artists as they would a pair of Chuck Taylors. The point to be made about Blu is that since he releases music at such a spare rate it’s given listeners a chance to fully appreciate the mastery he showed on “Below The Heavens”.

Every Blu leak, whether it be the minimalist & smattering “Amnesia (Rewind)” to the Johnson&Jonson project with Mainframe has been held with the same sort of emotion fans had when they were starved for new Kanye West tracks. Instead of force feeding the masses with a weekly release series or anything gimmicky, the Cali rapper has stuck to what worked in a previous area – making fans want you. While fans beg for Blu to release something, anything with a solid release date & contain the same quality displayed on the aforementioned two projects, Blu continues to play the role of traveling musician, firmly in control of his own direction & not by what the fans demand.

Demand however runs deep in the veins of today’s teen-to-twenty something hipster crowd. They want realism the same way its being portrayed heavily in the media & in the news. California no longer adheres to the same sticky idea of “either you rap about weed smoke, colors or G life”, but something much more accessible to the everyday fan. Its brushes with reality have been documented as far back as folks from both coast saying N.W.A had finally shed light on police brutality & how wild the West was in the late 80s and how Hollywood exploited the idea with a slew of movies about South Central Los Angeles. If you can hear about Pac Div having a buzzed out night moments after they dream of running the city itself and connect with it, it’s not automatically because you can use the soon to be cliché tag line of “oh, it’s good music,” but because there’s something to it. It’s fun, its honest, its something you don’t have to go run out and do nine million things to achieve in order to succeed.

Is Cali responsible for a few talents mainstream fans might eat up but critics may deem one hit wonder or even worse: a fad? To an extent, this is true. While reinvigorating Dougie Fresh’s “Dougie” dance, Cali Swag District has ushered in yet another widespread cultural phenomenon that may last longer than the groups actual career, same with the New Boyz & their claims to Jerk music. Many feel OFWGKTA is the counterbalance to that. While those two aforementioned groups may provide cheesing smiles for paying customers from Disney all the way to All-Star Weekend, OFWGKTA is winning over television sets & listeners by brute force.

Dom Kennedy had it perfectly quoted when he said on his 2010 cut “Locals Only”, “The very first time I heard “Black Supaman, I knew it was okay to act like who I am,”. These are who these artists are, eclectic, indifferent of major deals or what part of the West they may belong to because they’re all winning. The XXL Freshman List, as controversial as it has been in the past will be headlined by a West Coast artist, Kendrick Lamar in 2011, Nipsey Hussle is pushing a national tour off of the strength of his middle finger to idle label chatter mixtape The Marathon & J*DaVeY may be one of the few groups that can give Nirvana a spin into something darkly erotic & sexy.

It’s been awhile but everything is rolling the West’s way, despite the small skirmish between it’s New West/Old West members when at the end of the day – they’re the West period. The same can be said for a city such as Houston, growing in its varying instances since 2005 but still stuck to its own trappings & crab in a barrel mentality. Honor those who came before you yes, but set your own path as well. It’s the growth the West has found necessary to bring itself up from the national abyss.

And here to stay as long as there’s a cloud of weed smoke lofting around the Staples Center.