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West Coast Rapper Warren G Joined LA CAN & Polo’s Pantry To Give Away Hundreds Of Meals In Skid Row

Westcoast rapper Warren G sits for a portrait.

[dropcap size=big]S[/dropcap]moke billowed from Sniffin' Griffin's custom built barbecue trailer parked in front of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) in the heart of Skid Row, as DJ Fuse bumped West Coast hip-hop classics and Pastor Cue and Pete White from LA CAN took turns MCing, while Long Beach legend Warren G flipped burgers.

In the shadows of the Warren G spotlight, tucked under a canopy in the shade, Melissa, Indy, Todd and other volunteers with Polo's Pantry and LA CAN, added beans and potato salad to styrofoam plates topped with burgers, before they were sealed off with plastic-wrap, bagged up and whisked away to a table near the entrance to LA CAN. 

On the other side of a retractable black metal fence, a constant stream of community members from Skid Row walked away with cups of cold water (poured from a machine that generates filtered water from the atmosphere) and a warm meal.

The #HomesNotPrisons event had the energy of a backyard family BBQ. Attracting hundreds of people, media outlets as well as a brief appearance by councilmember and potential candidate for mayor, Kevin de Leon. Quietly though, LA CAN and Polo’s Pantry have been doing this work twice a week, every Wednesday and Sunday, for more than a year now.

In late March, at the start of the pandemic when restaurants and other service providers that unhoused folks rely on abruptly shut their doors, LA CAN opened theirs. In partnership with Polo’s Pantry, a mobile pantry dedicated to groups helping unhoused and marginalized communities in L.A., they created a system to safely feed hundreds of people experiencing food insecurity, while also providing access to vital resources that were lacking in the community, such as hand-washing stations, on Sundays.

Warren G told us during an interview that he didn’t expect there to be such a large media presence, “I didn't know it was gonna be this much press here, I wasn't tripping off the press, I just wanted to come and feed these people.” The self-professed “taco guy” told us that his father inspired him to get into cooking. "As a kid, all my pops used to do was cook, create recipes and play good music," Warren G recalls on his company's website.

A couple year ago, he launched his Sniffin Griffin’s BBQ pop-up and has since expanded into a line of sauces and rubs. But he reminds us that he’s still a rapper. “I’m still making platinum records."

The G-Funk-era rapper told us that he wanted to do something like this for a while and initially planned to do an event with the University of Southern California (USC), where one of his kids attends school. When that fell through, he linked up with LA CAN. “I'm just happy to get the opportunity to really come down here and show my love you know, so it's all good. And I'm gonna continue to do it, ain’t gonna stop, this ain't a one time thing.”

"It's a lot of good people down here, you know, just people look at them as like trash. These are real people here, you know, you have to open up and give them opportunities.”

“When you don't have nowhere to go and you're driven to where there's nowhere else to go, then you turn to places like this, which is not a bad thing.”

Unfortunately we didn’t get to try Warren G’s smoked brisket or ribs. In an effort to likely get more food out to folks quicker, Warren G prepared hamburgers, beans and potato salad, which still required the crew to get started at 9 AM in order to start serving folks by noon.

The number one question on our mind when talking to the regulator though was of course, "what’s your favorite taco?" At first the OG had a tough time answering our question, “I mean, I done had so many tacos, I just can’t say a favorite. But this is definitely the mecca for a great taco.” But when we pushed a little harder, Warren G settled on a spot called Mi Pueblo, a taco joint in the Inland Empire that he says has some delicious ground beef tacos, the regulator's favorite taco protein. “They make a really good ground beef taco. And I know whenever I'm on that side of town, I go by and grab one.” 

The self-described “foodie” made it clear though, “the best spots to get tacos is off the trucks.”

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