“When it comes to West Coast Hip-Hop, I am day one–I was there. Some folks don’t know, or like to forget. It’s cat’s that’s going around rewriting books and rewriting history and falsifying facts. So I said let me come forward to help with the Hip-Hop facts and the timeline. I’m not here to get paid. I love Hip-Hop.” – General Jeff
South Central, Los Angeles–Black Los Angeles continues to lose members of our community who hold valuable knowledge and insight on our history and roots in this city. From various elders we lost from Covid-19, including historian, Hip-Hop promoter and filmmaker Gregory Everett–to now General Jeff–who is a West Coast Hip-Hop pioneer and Skid Row activist.
Jeff is a South Central, L.A native who had a lot of love for his hometown. He is a graduate of Crenshaw High, where he won State Championships his senior year of basketballl. He rubbed shoulders with a lot of great L.A giants who also attended Crenshaw High during the 80’s including Ice-T.
Jeff would become a member and familiar face of the early West Coast Hip-Hop scene after being inspired by the music and images of Egyptian Lover, George Clinton and Uncle Jams Army. Jeff played a vital role as a member of Uncle Jam’s Army street team, promoting their events and dances on L.A’s city blocks. He would become a member of Bobby Jimmy’s Hip-Hop parody Group “The Critters,” as well as producing music with Rodney O and Joe Cooley.
Jeff was able to see the evolution of Hip-Hop through the elements of dance, as well as djing, which many fans of Hip-Hop are too young to appreciate or remember.
As a millennial born and raised in South Central, L.A. I am saddened to hear of the news of General Jeff’s passing. As a millennial, that means I was not yet born during one of L.A’s Golden era’s. As a journalist, I began to cross paths and interview some of these men and women who have played major roles in L.A’s historical landscape. This includes General Jeff and Gregory Everett, whose works we should uplift and support.
Both of these men were extremely supportive of my work and saw me as a vital link in sharing our historical narrative in an authentic, homegrown way. In college we called it “institutional memory” in reference to making sure newer students were aware of the work and history of those who walked the campus in previous years.
In 2014, General Jeff walked with Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant and Trayvon Martin’s family during the “PEACE Walk” Saturday, July 19th at Crenshaw High School. The march was hosted by the Trayvon Martin Foundation and Community Coalition.
I was able to interview General Jeff earlier this year during the pandemic. We mainly discussed the millions funneled through L.A’s non-profit industrial complex (a term Jeff coined) to address L.A’s homeless crisis.
As Jeff bluntly put it, if homelessness is eradicated, a lot of folks would be out of a job. The homeless crisis provides millions for high-salary administrative roles but the root issues of homelessness are never eradicated.
Jeff was a tireless advocate for the Skid Row community of Downtown, Los Angeles. He was responsible for the Skid Row City Limits Mural and was always highlighting the fact that since the crack epidemic which ravaged and practically destroyed Black L.A–Skid Row has remained majority Black.
Driving through Skid Row will make your jaw drop, to see people walking filthy L.A streets lined with tents. Whole city blocks–lined with tents. It really looks like a third world country. There are resources built in and around Skid Row, including remodeled hotels that now house the formerly houseless. However, there are clearly institutional and societal failures that the city must address. These are the issues that Jeff constantly spoke about, as he really fought to hold those in power accountable.
L.A and Black L.A in particular, have really lost a fierce social justice advocate and overall just someone with great energy. Jeff was always smiling and always upbeat every time I spoke to him. As Black L.A continues to be pushed around due to gentrification, we must honor Black folks who spent their lives in this city adding to the positive vibrations and collective well-being of us all.
Rest in Power General Jeff. A real L.A legend.