For the past two years, the one event that has loosely reunited indie hip-hop collective Living Legends has been Camp Flog Gnaw. However, even the Tyler, the Creator-curated event has only enough caché to attract some, but not all of the members of the underground favorites. This year was no different. While a number of the group’s emcees appeared at the two-day extravaganza at the L.A. Coliseum grounds, The Grouch was busy at home in Maui where a schedule conflict kept him at home under the Hawaiian sun.
“Pretty Lights was there and Eligh and I were going to perform with him,” The Grouch explains over the phone. “But the scheduling didn’t work out for that one. I like to show up at Camp Flog Gnaw because my brother helps put on that event and he likes to have us on there as well.”
The artist born Corey Scoffern has made his home in the islands for nearly a decade, which is nearly the same amount of time its been since Living Legends have released a batch of original material. The Grouch’s absence from Camp Flog Gnaw may have been disappointing for fans hoping for a full-fledged reunion at that particular, but they won’t have to wait long to see all eight on-stage together. In honor of their tenth anniversary, all the original members are joining forces for the first time in years to celebrate with a short tour.
Formed in the 1990s, Living Legends consists of The Grouch, Aesop, Bicasso, Eligh, Luckyiam, Scarub, Sunspot Jonz and Murs with DJ Fresh. Though initially hailing from the Bay Area, the collective became synonymous with the emerging underground rap scene that served as the undercurrent to gangsta rap and G-Funk. Combining snazzy beats, powerful verses and a DIY ethos, the group became one of the most popular and respected indie outfits.
Being far away from the mainland has afforded the Grouch the rare ability to stay focused on his music, while being relatively disconnected from any type of scene and in a sense, Living Legends. As each member has embarked on their own respective solo journeys.
With so many moving parts, pulling off a two-week tour even among long time friends and collaborators was a Herculean effort. Yet, the Grouch says that plans came together smoothly and attributes that to the long-in-the-works planning phases that he quarterbacked.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while,” he says. “I did all of the groundwork behind the scenes before I brought this up to them. I’ve actually been talking about doing this for the past couple of years of doing the 10 year anniversary with [Living] Legends, so I had that in the back of my mind.” The result was something that wasn’t too long or too crazy so that no one was able to say they couldn’t do it because it interfere with their own schedules. “I made sure it was right with the money and timing so no one could say no to it,” the rapper says. “It had to be strategically thought out before I ran it by the guys because I knew if one guy said no, it wouldn’t be right.”
There are tentative plans to rehearse only days before the first show — assuming all eight show up — where they’ll jam through the set that the Grouch is putting the finishing touches on organizing.
“It’s always hard to get these guys in one room when dealing with all eight personalities,” he explains. “It’s a job and a struggle, and that’s one of the reasons why it hasn’t happened so much in the recent years. But, I do believe that everyone is excited about this and rehearsal is usually fun with all of these characters.”
Like any reunion, the Grouch says there will a lot of hanging and catching up following their years apart and living in different parts of the country. But, the professionals that they are — and thus, Living Legends — they’re confident in their ability to seamlessly jump back into performing, even if it may take a few songs at the first show to get completely back into the swing of things.
While the tour may be a nostalgic trip for core fans, they shouldn’t get too comfortable with grooving to the group’s back catalog. It’s been a long eight years since the group released their The Gathering EP and nearly nine since they toured, but the Grouch is optimistic that when they’re all together, there could be some new song ideas exchanged among the eight members.
“I didn’t really want to get a tour started unless we had new music,” Grouch says. “I put so much work into setting up the tour that I couldn’t really spearhead the music. At the time. Once I got the tour set up, I got back to the new music idea and I started collecting beats. I sent around some stuff and I’m just feeling it out. I’m not going to say it’s a new album because I honestly don’t know what it is.”?
Though he’s always making new music in some capacity, the Grouch has a hankering to cook up some new Living Legends songs. How that manifests itself when the group is on tour is still in its formative stages. However, he has passed around new music to gauge the interest and motivations of the group.
“I’ve got some good things back,” he says coyly. “But I can’t say we have one complete song, but we have bits and pieces of ideas that we’re starting. When I see everyone face-to-face, and see where everyone’s really at. I’m motivated to make new music, and that’s all I can really say now.”
As Living Legends are ready to embark on this celebratory tour, the future appears as promising as its been in some time.
“I think there’s people out there who still want to see the Living Legends, and they want to see it again,” he says. “I like to make new things and I’m excited to connect these other guys. Working together with the people I used to work closely with following this large break, well, let’s just say it gets lonely being solo. I’m just excited at this point in my life to come back and to be in a circle with these guys.”
10th Annual How the Grouch Stole Christmas featuring all members of Living Liegends with Evidence and special guests at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana (714) 957-0600, www.observatoryoc.com, Thursday, Dec. 1, 11 p.m. $25. All ages.