Good Life Cafe
The Good Life Cafe was a health food market and cafe in Los Angeles, California, known for its open mic nights that helped the 1990s Los Angeles alternative hip hop movement flourish. In 2008, director Ava DuVernay, who had performed at the cafe with the Figures of Speech hip hop group, released a documentary about the cafe, This Is The Life. The film featured a number of hip hop artists discussing the importance of the Good Life Cafe to themselves and the hip hop scene. The Cafe was open from 1989 to 1999.
It was described as "a platform for rappers to perform their material" and "a testing ground for Los Angeles' independent rap scene". Artists like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Lenny Kravitz and others reportedly attended the open-mic, while many other musicians learned their skills at the events.
The Good Life Health Food Centre's weekly open-mic night began December 1989 on the corner of Crenshaw & Exposition. Started by B. Hall and her son R/KainBlaze with his friends The Mighty O-Roc and The Dynamic Flow, KNGR: The Underground Radio at the Good Life offered a workshop-like atmosphere for aspiring MCs, poets and musicians to hone their craft.
On Thursday nights from 8-10pm, artists were allowed to perform one song. Some would perform written songs, and some would freestyle. When a performance was not up to par, the audience would call out "Please pass the mic!" and the emcee would end the performance promptly. In addition, there was a strict policy that no cursing was allowed. B. Hall once explained, "Young people needed a place to go to develop their own art. The no-cussing policy wasn’t about us being uptight church people, it was about wanting the atmosphere of a serious arts workshop. Most of the crowd respected the rule, some said it made rapping more challenging, that it created more respect and brotherhood."
After the venue closed at night, people would take their rhymes into the parking lot and battle after closing. In December 1995, several notable performers established Project Blowed which became its own successful venue.
Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, will.i.am, Common, Macy Gray, and Lenny Kravitz reportedly attended the open-mic, while artists such as The Pharcyde, Biz Markie, Fat Joe, Skee-Lo, and Kurupt occasionally performed there.
Other Good Life regulars included Freestyle Fellowship, The Righteous Family, Pigeon John, Abstract Rude, Chillin Villain Empire, Rifleman Ellay Khule, Volume 10, Medusa, Figures of Speech, OMD, Spoon Iodine, Ganjah K and Fat Jack, among many others.
The last Good Life Open Mic show was in September 1997. The Good Life Health Food Centre closed in 1999. Regulars of the open mic night later founded Project Blowed, a hip-hop workshop.
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