"El Trafico" - the honorary title given to the adolescent, yet rapidly growing rivalry between the LA Galaxy & LAFC, and what you'll likely be sitting in en route to the newly established & already theatrical derby. On one end, you have one of the original ten teams present at the birth of the MLS, the LA Galaxy. Deeply rooted into the city, the most decorated & celebrated franchise in MLS history, the Galaxy have given Los Angeles Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cobi Jones, Jorge Campos, "El Pescadito" Ruiz, David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane & now, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Undeniably at the helm of the sport in the city, the once lone alpha in the concrete jungle now faces a new challenge, one for the supremacy of Southern Cali.
Across town, the newly launched LAFC (formerly the failed Chivas USA) have taken both the city and league by storm, which adds to the excitement, considering our lack of rain here. Attempting to establish itself as the city's footballing Mecca with the help of beautifully designed stadium & a tireless fanbase set on being respected like European ultras. Although they lack the history, bringing in a revered Mexican in Carlos Vela to captain in a club centred in South Central LA was a front office chess move. Accompanied by players like Diego Rossi, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Brian Rodriguez & the newly added Frenchman Ben Arfa, all adding to the promise already felt with the new club. From the "Freeway Series" (Dodgers vs Angels) to "El Trafico", the city undoubtedly has another worthy rivalry cementing a divide amongst los Angeliños.
Now, there are an array of reasons as to why this particular derby resonates so personally. While tuned into Mundial Magazine's podcast "GIANT", the episode focused on the start of the MLS was not only knowledgeable one, but extremely nostalgic as well. I was about ten years old in 9-6 when that inaugural game kicked off at the Rose Bowl. Being raised by a Salvadoran step father, there was no way my pops was going to miss seeing his countryman Mauricio Cienfiegos lace them up on what we knew/felt then was a historic day. There's a particular moment in the "GIANT" episode where Jorge Campos mentions how surprisingly loud the reception for Cien was on that opening day & all I could think of was him yelling amongst those fans full of pride, waving flags as if celebrating a conquest. Fast forward to the present day, the city's newest club has their stadium centred in the same South Central neighbourhoods I grew up in. Adding itself to the pantheon of cross town & inner city rivalries like the Lakers vs Clippers, USC vs UCLA, Kings vs Ducks, this newly found derby fits in perfectly to an already existent climate in LA's lively sports culture.
Even as a lifelong Galaxy fan, as a native I can celebrate the arrival of the new club & further representation it gives the Latino communities that so passionately support it. At the top of the year I launched a series titled "Death At The Derby" with my brother & Toronto based emcee, Lord Juco, an ongoing collection of monthly releases focused on the most dangerous and deadly derbies worldwide. Each of us representing our respective sides, accompanied by cultural cuts full of colourful commentary from DJ, Dubplates, over the grimiest of production from an array of producers around the globe, the series was at the root of this particular piece. In covering derbies that have gone on well over a 100 years, have both a socio-political history and impact, it dawned on me the privileged position it is to watch this derby grow from its adolescent stages & into a rivalry that recognised outside the city's limits. All the ingredients for a recipe of madness are there & although the Galaxy have owned this clash (rightfully so), their first few matches have been instant classics thanks to the god-like might of Zlatan & the valor and vigor of LAFC's captain, Carlos Vela.
Now, aside from the childhood connection with the Galaxy & growing up down the street from the Banc of California stadium, the derby also appealed to me with regards to my work as an artist & emcee. A battle for Los Angeles raging with the energy of Zack De La Rocha, the newly born derby provides new perspective on the elements that make these monumental matches. For the first time I get to watch a derby grow as if it's my own child. Already a clash of MLS titans, it'll be exciting to see what this rivalry becomes; the future star players it'll feature, the game-winning goals that'll divide a city & that two fanbases that will surely be at full strength & at full song for every kickoff to still come. The growth & strength of the MLS has now reached undeniable levels, introducing new & immediately successful clubs into the fold every few years, internationally elevated by the play & presence of Europe's glorified greats like Thierry Henry, David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Wayne Rooney & forever fueled by the undying love of the league's collective fans.
Far less a journalistic piece & more a piece out the journal, it's only proper I thank the good people at The Culture Division for allowing me the opportunity to both express & move my pen differently. No rhymes this time. As the roots to this derby deepen & the word continues to spread on the series, it is only a matter of time before they both meet over raw boom bap production & recognised worldwide as a worthy derby.
Normally, you'll catch Cousin Feo spitting on beats and not writing articles. Listen to his stuff below.
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