The Living Legends, a loose collective of MCs and DJs from the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Japan, and Europe, are unique for both their down-to-earth songs and approach to the music business. Following in the footsteps of California artists like Too Short who made a name selling tapes out of car trunks, the Legends also chose to stay independent from record labels. They took the street hustling mentality even further with world tours, an in-depth website, tireless self-promotion, and an organized business plan, which made their slogan "Control Destiny" ring very true. Living Legends served as an inspiration for other Bay Area heavyweight crews like Hieroglyphics and Hobo Junction, who along with hip-hoppers nationwide in the late '90s decided they could live off without major labels.
Mystik Journeymen, a duo composed of BFAP (later rechristened Sunspot Jonz) and PSC (later Luckyiam), formed in 1992 and became legendary for their underground tapes and parties in East Oakland. The founding nucleus of the Living Legends, the two met the Grouch in 1995 and soon after embarked on the first of a long series of self-funded tours abroad, this time only to Europe. Upon their return, they met up with a trio called 3MG or Three Melancholy Gypsies (MURS, Eligh, and Scarub) who had broken off from their Los Angeles-based group Log Cabin and reunited in Oakland. The sextet officially formed Living Legends in 1996 (along with Aesop, Elusive, and Bizarro) and gained national renown with appearances on 1997's Beats and Lyrics compilation and 1998's Rules of the Game. As the internet and their website www.LLcrew.com developed, the Legends were able to reach a huge new audience worldwide.
As their fame grew, the Legends tirelessly visited Europe, Asia, and Australia, a total of eight world tours in two years. Their membership also grew to international proportions after they linked up with Japan's Arata and DJ Quietstorm and Belgium's Krewcial. While home in California, they released a continuous stream of albums and tapes through their imprints Outhouse Records and Revenge Entertainment, produced their own magazine, Unsigned and Hella Broke, and put annual Broke Ass Summer Jams. In 1999, Living Legends moved their base of operations to Los Angeles and added Basik as another member. [AMG Luke Forrest]