The roots of West Coast hip-hop run through Uncle Jamm’s Army.
The legendary (and gigantic) DJ crew ran parties all throughout the Los Angeles area, booking —and packing — performance venues all over the city. Eventually, they became so popular that they were able to book the Los Angeles Sports Arena and fill that too.
The LA dance scene became the inspiration for iconic hip-hop films like Breakin’ and low-key gifted Michael Jackson with some of his best moves; it laid the foundation for the independent, grassroots recording industry that eventually drove groups like NWA to worldwide notoriety.
Uncle Jamm’s Army started out playing high school parties in the mid-‘70s and went on to become LA’s most popular party promoters well into the ‘80s. Founded in 1974 as the The Night Time Players by the late Rodger Clayton, Charles “Alvon” Woods, Renord Collins, and Arthur “Gid” Martin in Harbor City, the Army pioneered the style of electro, funk, and old-school hip-hop that laid the blueprint for rap and dance scenes that still resonates today. In fact, the Los Angeles City Council has even declared October 28th “Uncle Jamm’s Army Day” to acknowledge how the evolution of west coast hip-hop and rap music would not be what it is today if it weren’t for the influence of Uncle Jamm’s Army.
In LA Weekly, Tracy Jones called Uncle Jamm’s Army “the West Coast’s real-life answer to Netflix’s The Get Down,” which dramatized the earliest beginnings of the house party scene in New York City that eventually birthed the worldwide movement known as hip-hop. In the 1980s, the most prominent figures in New York rap — Run DMC, Whodini, The Real Roxanne — were being booked for their first West Coast concerts at none other than Uncle Jamm’s Army parties, giving LA its first real taste of live rap music just as the craze was beginning to sweep the nation.
That’s why Red Bull Music Academy called up Los Angeles area DJs Egyptian Lover, DJ Bobcat, and Arabian Prince, West Coast gangsta rap pioneer Ice-T and The Glove, and Cli-N-Tel and Alonzo, members of former rival crew World Class Wreckin’ Cru, to reunite Uncle Jamm’s Army for one night only at the Savoy Entertainment Center in the back lot of the former Skateland USA to commemorate the impact and influence of the legendary crew. The reunion show is a part of RBMA’s inaugural Red Bull Music Academy Festival, the descendant of Red Bull’s 30 Days In LA.
The festivities of “Uncle Jamm’s Army Day” also coincide with today’s premiere of Red Bull Music Academy’s new documentary episode of The Note titled “Uncle Jamm’s Army: Pioneers of the Modern Party,” which provides an in-depth look at the collective and its influence of music for the last thirty years.