Documenting a Landmark of L.A. Hip Hop History: The Roadium Mixtape Documixery

Whether it’s through the media and entertainment industries or academia, Los Angeles hip hop has been under close scrutiny for over two decades. Far from drying up, the history of L.A. hip hop seems to expand as the myth builds and the interest for it grows. The more you search the more you find - and in the wake of the blockbuster Straight Outta Compton (2015), more and more stories and details about the city’s hip hop past are being discovered and told. In many ways this is what the upcoming Roadium Mixtape Documixery attempts to do. Focusing on the unsung contribution of Steve Yano, his record stand at the Roadium swap meet and the mixtape series that he was putting out, the documentary explores the pre-N.W.A era of L.A. hip hop.




Dr. Dre’s career started long before N.W.A, as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru. Dr. Dre as well as DJ Tony A. Da Wizard made mixtapes for Steve Yano who dubbed and distributed them at the Roadium swap meet. Those mixtapes included songs not yet played by the radio and thus helped push forward hip hop sounds in L.A. Those mixtapes featured many freestyle raps from artists such as Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and Hi-C, who would go on to become some of the biggest names in hip hop.





As the music industry was morphing into large conglomerates by the mid-1980s, music became mostly commercialized through wide retail chains. At the time when hip hop was perceived as a passing fad, local retailers such as Yano’s record stand functioned as outlets for the burgeoning L.A. hip hop scene.  

As it concentrates on the Roadium we can also expect the documentary to shed light on the cultural significance of swap meets for people of color in working class communities. Myriad insider stories should also be featured such as how Steve Yano introduced Eazy-E and Dr. Dre to one another during a three way phone call.




Directed by Tony A, as one of the DJs who worked closely with Yano and made mixtapes for him, the documentary features numerous figures of L.A. hip hop such as Warren G, Alonzo Williams, Sir Jinx, Kid Frost, Arabian Prince, DJ Rhettmatic, AMG, Hi-C, Tony A himself and many more.





Samuel Lamontagne is a Ph.D student in Ethnomusicology at UCLA. His research focuses on hip hop in the particular context of Los Angeles.

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