Drink Champs first launched in 2016 with N.O.R.E. and EFN looking to provide a comfortable, honest environment to have real conversations with influential figures in hip hop’s history. The hosts wanted to give “flowers” to those who helped build the culture. Their genuine love for hip hop comes through in the interviews.
N.O.R.E.’s credibility as a rapper known for albums like War Report adds a level of relatability that puts guests at ease. Meanwhile, EFN asks incisive questions honed through hours of research. Together they strike a balance between insightful and laidback.
Transition to the “Virtual Happy Hour” Format
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Drink Champs to move to a “virtual happy hour” format for guest interviews. While unable to record in-person in their Miami studio, this shift enabled them to feature guests from anywhere.
Episode 4 aired just as stay-at-home orders went into place in March 2020. N.O.R.E. and EFN acknowledged the strange circumstances before proceeding with an episode that served as a temporary escape from the chaos.
Episode 4 Guests: Pioneers of the Early West Coast Sound
The episode featured three legendary artists who helped build the foundation for West Coast hip hop:
DJ Quik: DJ, producer, and rapper known for his slick funk productions and iconic albums like Quik is the Name and Way 2 Fonky. A Compton native, Quik introduced a melodic G-funk sound drawing from P-funk groups like Zapp.
E-40: Pivotal Bay Area pioneer who reinvented language with his flamboyant slang on albums like In a Major Way and The Element of Surprise. Along with Too $hort, E-40 put the Bay on the hip hop map.
Too $hort: Influential rapper from East Oakland whose early indie tapes like Don’t Stop Rappin’ helped spread the raw Oakland sound. His iconic bass-heavy production style became a blueprint for West Coast hip hop.
Insights on the Early West Coast Hip Hop Scene
The guests provided firsthand accounts of the early DIY days of West Coast hip hop. Key topics included:
- Origins – Building buzz by selling tapes out of car trunks. Having local hits before earning wider exposure.
- Sound – Experimenting with funk samples and basslines adapted from Ohio and Miami. Finding a distinguished sound.
- Culture – Escaping street life by expressing raw stories over beats. The LA lowrider scene. Police discrimination.
- Business – Taking control by starting independent labels. Distributing directly to local record shops. Maintaining ownership.
Memorable anecdotes included:
- DJ Quik detailing his process for creating bass-heavy drums using 808s layered with layered live drums.
- E-40 explaining how the distinct Bay slang emerged from necessity to encrypt conversations from police.
- Too $hort recounting violence in 1980s East Oakland that made hip hop his ticket out.
- All three discussing their early hustle of selling tapes hand-to-hand for $10 without radio play.
- Drink Champs has an highly engaged fanbase across social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Fans tune in live when new episodes drop and actively discuss episodes. The podcast has used fan feedback to shape future episodes.
- Many fans see Drink Champs as a way to learn hip hop history and honor pioneers. They request specific legacy acts appear on the show.
- The hosts encourage fans to submit questions for guests and will ask select fan questions during episodes.
Social Media Reaction to Episode 4
- On Twitter, many fans called Episode 4 an “instant classic” and the best episode of Drink Champs yet.
- DJ EFN’s Instagram was flooded with praise for spotlighting West Coast pioneers and amplifying their stories.
- One Twitter thread with hundreds of retweets demanded the episode be used to educate all emerging rappers about hip hop history.
- Fans widely shared E-40’s quotes about ownership. Many expressed surprise learning about his business savvy.
- Too $hort’s stories resonated as vital lessons on the origins of hip hop as a form of expression and escapism.
- DJ Quik’s breakdown of his production style inspired many aspiring producers. Fans called him underrated.
Impact on the Culture
Drink Champs episodes like this one shine light on unsung pioneers and erased histories within hip hop. Key impacts include:
- Preservation – Captures stories and contextualizes legacy of artists essential to hip hop history.
- Education – Provides knowledge about the culture’s roots for younger generations.
- Appreciation – Shows reverence for the architects who laid the foundation.
- Perspective – Illuminates hip hop’s diversity even within regional scenes.
Key Hip Hop Lessons
While the guests conveyed many gems, a few stand out as guiding principles:
- Master your craft – Hone skills continuously. Evolve sonically but retain your core style.
- Build a loyal following – Nurture true fan connections rather seek mainstream acclaim
- Own your art – Maintain control over your masters and publishing to preserve independence.
- Document your journey – Capture the process. Photos, videos, and diaries will become treasures.
Fan Reactions: Calls for More Hip Hop History
Fans praised the episode for capturing raw conversations that brought hip hop history to life:
- “That ending convo with $hort, Quik and E-40 was one of the realest moments ever captured on a podcast. Salute Drink Champs.”
- “We need Drink Champs to do more episodes like this focused on hip hop’s foundation and pioneers.”
- “These kinda episodes are so crucial for teaching younger cats about the culture. Nothing but gems.”