“What’s up with Nina?” I asked Faith Radle, Girl in a Coma’s manager, looking at the band’s lead singer, Nina Díaz. It was pouring rain that afternoon in late May, but we were safely sheltered at the ballroom of the Omni Hotel, minutes after Judge Nelson Wolff gave his State of the County address and seconds before I lamely asked, “Is she going to the gym, or something?”
Kendrick Lamar burst into the national spotlight in 2011, following the release of his debut album Section.80, which included the hits “HiiiPoWeR” and “A.D.H.D.” If that album — lyrically focused on issues of drug addiction, violence, love, lust, and the battle to improve oneself — got people talking about Lamar as if he was next in line for the rap throne, 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City proved they were right.
The Source Family, helmed by a war-vet-turned-restaurateur with the given name Jim Baker, could be lumped into the miasma of 1960s social experiments. But there’s something else going on. Smoking weed was a ritual, but drugs weren’t a focus. They weren’t totally freed from monetary concerns—Baker’s Sunset Strip health-food eatery sustained them. It’s all curious—the reams of music they recorded as Ya Ho Wha 13 are, too.