If I were to ask you to name a rock and roll historical landmark, chances are that you would have absolutely no problem answering that question. After all, there are plenty to choose from. But if I were to ask you to do the same for hip hop, would you be able to?
I’d like to submit one specific hip hop landmark for your consideration: The Compton swap meet in Compton, California.
Officially known as the Compton Fashion Center, the swap meet was a former Sears store that was converted into an indoor flea market by a Korean immigrant in 1983. It was a public space where hundreds of vendors — mostly people of color — made a living selling an assortment of goods until its closure in 2015. But the swap meet was more than that. It was also a hotbed for west coast rap, one with ties to three artists that defined the genre for their respective eras: NWA, Tupac, and Kendrick Lamar. In the spirit of honoring this landmark as it properly deserves, here’s a breakdown of why exactly the Compton Fashion Center is so important, its connection to the aforementioned artists, and why its loss should be, and is, deeply felt.