kendrick-lamar-cali-christmas

With 2015 officially in the books, we take a final look at everything that made us happy, frustrated, sad and joyous in the year. From film, television, pop culture, music and more — we decided to revisit 2015 after all 365 days were accounted for. Here’s freelance writer Kyla Zorrilla on the West Coast and how the assault from the Left Coast crowned them as the best regional base for creatives.

The presence of the West was palpable in 2015. The West influences and informs so much of the entertainment industry, especially music and art. Particularly hip hop and visuals. The whole lifestyle and vibe of California reached far beyond state lines and permeated all things pop culture. The collective lineup and releases from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, The Game, Dr. Dre, Anderson .Paak and others was so varied that audiences everywhere were able to find a representative they relate to. In terms of a global reach in film, nothing from a hip-hop standout could match the debut of F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton, a viral wonder that not only broke the August box office, it set a path for numerous biopics to be made later down the line. This year served as a reminder of just how crucially involved the West Coast is in the development of hip hop music and culture.

Present day, there can be no conversation about West Coast without mention of Kendrick Lamar. He has continued to put on in a major way, pushing past what’s trendy or popular and remaining focused on his own agenda. 2015 gave way to his To Pimp A Buttefly album which was incredibly raw, a tedious undertaking of what it meant to not just be black in Los Angeles but human and aware. There was no filler, just him battling with his inner demons and detailing the landscape of the world from his vantage point. The album was reflective of both the plight of he and his peers, as well as the survivor’s guilt he’s struggling with while maneuvering through stardom and settling into his new life beyond the ‘hood he knows so well. He had a conversation with 2Pac. He was a named a generational icon. His music and artistry speaks to and about America, extending so far beyond just his hometown. He is undoubtedly one of the most influential people in music. Period.

At the other end of the spectrum, enter Miguel’s Wildheart. It showcased tremendous growth both in talent and as a person. He embraced all his peculiarities and urged us to celebrate our own. His desire to be unapologetically himself speaks to the lovers, rebels, and misfits worldwide that feel the same. He encourages us all to be free from the guidelines of what’s acceptable and just completely immerse ourselves in the experience of being who we are. That is such a critically important message to be broadcasting to the world right now. Normal is not a standard, but a label and is completely subjective. Forget “normal.” Let’s riot.

No matter what your preference, there is a West side affiliate to provide that sound or imagery. Omarion, Jhené Aiko & Kehlani have the low key steez secured. Game and YG remind us that gangster rap (and in YG’s case, modern day G-Funk) is still on the scene. DJ Mustard has a platinum thumb and it propelled Big Sean to his best album so far. Forever “inspired” by the innovation of others, Drake made a visit to LACMA and recreated James Turrell’s Breathing Light installation for his own “Hotline Bling” video. I mean… it’s pretty clear what allowed such domination over the last year. The West Coast is constantly evolving, offering up something new but staying true to classic roots. And people really feel that shit.

The photo of Kendrick Lamar was taken at the 2015 Cali Christmas event. Kyla Zorrilla is a writer living in Los Angeles.

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