One of the larger, more legendary cyphers in Christian hip-hop, L.A. Symphony came to us from where else but Los Angeles. They emerged in the late 90s with a few 12″ singles and a full-length album on member Flynn Adam Atkins’ own independent label Eartube Empire, via which Flynn had also released a full-length solo album earlier. The group’s breakthrough came in the form of 2003’s The End is Now for Gotee Records. I had the privilege of booking/hosting the group for a youth event in Atlanta in the mid-2000s.
While the group found creative ways to integrate the hope of the Gospel and the music of hip-hop, what is most impressive about them was their artistry and the way they managed to make quite an impact on the SoCal hip-hop scene. Even 20 years later, they are seen as important contributors to the Los Angeles underground hip-hop culture of the era. They had a track produced by mainstream stalwart and pop culture icon Will I Am, had a song featured on “Project Gotham Racing” for xBox, and Pigeon John was mentioned in the Netflix series Evolution of Hip-Hop.
The group consisted of Atkins (AKA Flynn), Cookbook (Jason Soto), UNO Mas (Rene Palma), Joey the Jerk (Sarpong Boateng), and Sharlok Poems (Sharron Brooks, AKA Sareem Poems, Poems), and contributions from DJ Jason Greenhill (AKA Great Jason, Gr. JsnBeits). Early members included Pigeon John (John Dust) and BTwice (Bernardo Bordas), both also of Brainwash Projects. Additionally, most of these artists have released solo albums and/or collaborations, often with one another. In addition to Brainwash Projects, Pigeon John and Flynn have teamed up as Rootbeer; Cookbook and UNO Mas have collaborated on 2 full-lengths; and most of them have contributed to one another’s solo efforts.