Compton Cowboy Randy Savvy on Dr. Dre-mixed ‘Colorblind’


It was a narrative Randy Savvy had heard numerous occasions earlier than: One other Black man had been killed in Compton. Hearts and lives have been shattered. A neighborhood grieved.

In early 2020, Savvy, born Randall Hook, realized pal’s boyfriend was fatally wounded by gunfire on his method to a retailer.

Savvy, 31, understood her grief. He’s misplaced family members to gang violence too.

He wrote “Colorblind,” his first single, in response.

“That music got here from a very impressed place of interested by the life that we stay in internal cities, how we lose lives and the way it simply appears to be a standard lifestyle in our tradition,” stated Savvy in a telephone interview. “It’s a poisonous, tragic cycle: Folks die. There’s a little bit celebration to honor their life. Then the following individual dies and the identical factor occurs. The subsequent individual dies and the identical factor…

“It’s actually saddening to me.”

In 2020, homicides in Los Angeles County rose by 20%, to the best degree in a decade. A lot of the violence occurred in South L.A. In November, Los Angeles reached a bloody benchmark not seen in a decade with 300 homicides in a single yr, the primary time since 2009. Shootings elevated greater than 32%. A lot of the surge has been fueled by gang violence.

Because the chief and cofounder of the Compton Cowboys, Savvy has devoted his life to curbing cycles of gang violence. He realized to journey horses as a child in what was then referred to as the Compton Junior Posse, a using and gang-prevention program based in 1988 by his aunt, Mayisha Akbar, in Richland Farms.

A number of years in the past, after his aunt retired, Savvy took over the nonprofit and rebranded it the Compton Junior Equestrians, entrusted with the massive duty of reshaping the group for a brand new era. In 2017 he based the Compton Cowboys, a bunch of childhood mates working to struggle dangerous stereotypes about Black individuals and Compton with horseback using.

Its members adopted the doctrine: “Streets raised us. Horses saved us.” Walter Thompson-Hernández, who grew up seeing the Black women and men using horses within the streets of South L.A., wrote about them in his debut e book, “The Compton Cowboys: The New Technology of Cowboys in America’s City Heartland,” revealed final yr.

Savvy grew up listening to West Coast rap icons like N.W.A, Snoop Dogg and DJ Quik. At rodeo exhibits, he’d usually blast nation stars reminiscent of Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and Reba McEntire. When he began writing music with mates as an adolescent, these two musical worlds generally collided. Their first music, “My Wooden,” about being “cool” and “flier than all people else,” was a remix of and a play on Younger Jeezy’s “My Hood.”

“We have been horrible however we had a lot enjoyable doing it … it by no means occurred to me that I might find yourself eager to take music severely as a profession,” stated Savvy.

That drive established itself whereas Savvy was finding out for his bachelor’s in sociology at Occidental School years later. By the point he based Compton Cowboys, Savvy “had discovered himself and what I needed to do on this planet.” Music was on the fore.

“When somebody says one thing is colourful, that’s often a superb factor,” stated Savvy of “Colorblind.” “Colours are usually inspiring and may make you are feeling good, just like the rainbow, artwork, paint, stuff like that. However colours within the context of the ’hood are actually traumatizing.”

Savvy associates crimson and blue with the lights of police automobiles and the rival Crips and Bloods gangs. The colour inexperienced makes him take into consideration “the issues individuals do for cash within the ’hood.” Yellow elicits ideas of yellow barricade tape discovered at crime scenes. White conjures chalk on the bottom.

As for the colour black, he imagines Black faces, lifeless, mendacity on chilly concrete.

“Typically I want I used to be colorblind as a result of then I wouldn’t see these traumatizing colours on a regular basis … possibly my life wouldn’t be so emotionally unstable seeing all this,” he stated.

Within the spring, because the lethal coronavirus swept by the US and disproportionately affected communities of colour, Savvy discovered himself struggling to take care of the ranch and its horses. Movie and TV manufacturing got here to a grinding halt, extinguishing an enormous monetary supply for the ranch.

The Compton Cowboys on horseback, with Randy Savvy riding lead

The Compton Cowboys, with Randy Savvy using lead, put together to depart Gateway Towne Heart for the beginning of their Peace Trip, in 2020.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Instances)

Savvy turned his panic into hustle: He referred to as and emailed “the massive playmakers” from Compton he thought may help. Dr. Dre, a fellow Compton native and amongst his musical idols, was prime of thoughts.

By a sequence of networking connections, the 2 males bought in contact. Dre supplied a yr’s price of funding for horse feed. He requested what else was occurring.

Savvy was reluctant to say his musical inclinations as a result of “in my head I’m like, ‘I’m certain all people that talks to Dre tells him that they’ve music,’” he recalled. However he went for it. Among the many songs he despatched him, “Colorblind” stood out to Dre. They left it at that.

Quick-forward months later when George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, was killed by the hands of a white police officer. Black Lives Matter protests erupted, and “Colorblind” out of the blue took on a brand new that means.

“The refrain, the lyrics, go: ‘Purple mild blue mild yellow tape black face white chalk on the bottom.’ Initially, that addressed a homicide scene. The police are there investigating and dealing with the homicide scene of any individual who bought killed within the streets on account of gang violence,” stated Savvy.

However within the context of Floyd and the BLM motion, he thought: “This homicide scene, possibly the police killed this man that’s on the bottom. So these crimson and blue lights, these cop lights which are there, usually are not there as a response, they’re the potential suspects to this homicide.”

He referred to as up Dre, who excitedly agreed to combine the observe. Savvy formally launched the music and music video in late November. The music video options a few of Savvy’s beloved horses, footage from BLM protests and scenes of Dre and the Compton Cowboy recording within the studio.

Final month, Savvy dropped a live acoustic performance of “Colorblind” on his Instagram page. Shot in Richland Farms — his Tennessee Strolling Horse Goldie Loc within the background and pal George Magallanes Jr. on a nylon-stringed guitar — Savvy raps:

I’m wondering will it ever change
Been praying all my life for higher days
Too many holidays
Mamas pillows wanting like they been out within the rain and n— nonetheless gang banging
Nah I can’t blame them

Inform me what you’d do if that was the one household you ever knew
Purple or blue you gone die for them as a result of they carried out died for you that’s the reality
Eulogies to show it

The music, stated Savvy, is about love and valuing life. However extra particularly, it’s a name to motion to finish the gang violence that has bothered neighborhoods like his for generations.

“I’m hoping that younger cats on the streets can hear it and it’ll awaken a message for them of like, ‘Possibly I ought to put the gun down’ or ‘Possibly I ought to attempt to go legit with what I’m doing for cash.’ We now have to cease hurting our neighborhood and killing one another earlier than we even get an opportunity to maximise our potential.

“I’m uninterested in seeing Black and brown our bodies on the streets and hurting our households, our moms, all people,” he added. “There’s simply an excessive amount of harm within the ’hood, and we’re self-inflicting numerous that harm. We now have to deal with that from inside.”

Savvy will launch his six-track EP, “Late Evening Trip,” later this yr.