Going Back To Cali: A Tale of 2 Tracks

One of my favorite Hip Hop music videos of all time LL Cool J’s Going Back To Cali is one of the lesser known landmarks in Hip Hop music.  It integrated East Coast Hip Hop with that care free West Coast sensibility.  This track was used in the 1987 film Less Than Zero which probably didn’t help its street cred, none the less it was and still is one of the more sophisticated Hip Hop videos of all time. Hip Hop audiences at the time were used to that gritty NY aesthetic in their videos, so when this video came out with its Art Deco architecture, California GoGo dancers, and cruising convertibles, it was a bit of a shock.  The video actually feels more current in today’s homogeneous culture than it did back then.  Of course all the credit goes to L.L. Cool J as it is the track that dictated the visual vocabulary.

Ironically about 10 years later another landmark event in Hip Hop would define a generation. The murder of The Notorious B.I.G. on the West Coast.  Shortly before this murder The Notorious B.I.G. produced a track by the same name which came to epitomize the West Coast/East Coast rivalry that dominated the mid 90′s.  Biggie’s version was a half hearted attempt to mend the rivalry, but instead he fueled it. Ultimately it was his literal “going back to Cali” that left him vulnerable and contributed to his murder.  According to wikipedia “The following lyrics were thought to be a big turning point in the infamous feud.”

“If I got to choose a coast I got to choose the East

I live out there, so don’t go there
But that don’t mean a nigga can’t rest in the West
See some nice breasts in the West
Smoke some nice sess in the West, y’all niggaz is a mess
Thinkin I’m gon stop, givin L.A. props
All I got is beef with those that violate me I shall annihilate thee.”

Today with all of that behind us I can only imagine an alternative world where the spirit of the LL version would have defined the East Coast/West Coast relationship in the 90′s.  That spirit of camaraderie and appreciation is now a part of our newly connected world, and as they say better late than never.



In the LL video keep an eye out for cameos by Martha Quinn, Kari Wuhrer & Rick Rubin.

No official video made so I posted this video which has allot of weed references.

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