Documentary Landscape | Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin
Soul of the City: Leimert Park

Leimert Park is one of the most iconic Black neighborhoods in Los Angeles. This area is the birthplace for many influential L.A. Hip-hop icons such as Freestyle Fellowship, Jurassic 5, The Pharcyde, Medusa, and countless others. Having grown up in the Hollywood/Koreatown area, my awareness of Leimert Park began in the early 1990’s when, like many others, I was focused on graffiti, freestyle rap battles and West Coast Hip-Hop. There was of course the mainstream rap music that dominated the local airwaves but I was more concerned with the emerging sound that was bubbling up from the underground. And that sound was being cultivated in Leimert Park at the Good Life Cafe and the legendary Project Blowed. The incalculable impact that this scene has had on music worldwide is itself one of the most underappreciated aspects about this neighborhood.

One thing that I noticed while photographing the area was how friendly people are in this part of the city. Conversations are initiated without hesitation and there is a tangible creative energy that pulsates throughout. Perhaps it can be attributed to the history of the location being one of those rare places that has sparked (and continues to ignite) multiple creative movements. There aren’t many other places in the world, let alone in Los Angeles, with that sort of track record.

In recent times The Leimert Park area has persevered as one of the jewels of South Los Angeles, though the encroaching wave of gentrification has raised concerns among many residents. As the creative center of Black Los Angeles, people are rightfully protective of this neighborhood's legacy. The high price of housing in other parts of the city and the impending completion of the Metro Crenshaw Line have resulted in a needed discussion about the future of Leimert Park and how that future relates to those who already live there.