Over the course of the last decade or so, rappers have made a tradition of exaggerating the misery of their childhoods. Some emcees truly grew up in environments marked by grinding poverty, rampant crime and utter hopelessness, but plenty of others who claim to know about the mean streets firsthand are actually suburban to the bone: Call it the Vanilla Ice factor. So give props to Ryu (Ryan Patrick Maginn) and Tak (Takbir Bashir) of Styles of Beyond, who not only admit to hailing from Canoga Park, a not especially unpleasant part of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, but freely name the names of folks -- such as Ice Cube and Everlast -- who haven't been all that forthcoming about their Canoga Park connections. (Cube, Everlast and Tak all attended Canoga Park's Taft High School.) Moreover, they adamantly maintain that a life of degradation isn't a prerequisite for... More >>>