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In the middle of a gritty urban landscape in Southern California, some modern-day cowboys are trying — against great odds — to keep a little bit of the Old West alive.

Andrew Hosley gently tightens the bridle on Jade, a chestnut mare. More times than he can count, Jade has given kids in this Compton neighborhood a ride.

“I used to have the same reaction when I was a kid of their age,” he says, “watching the guys ride by on horses, and I always wanted to touch ‘em, ride 'em.”

Compton’s Cowboys Keep The Old West Alive, And Kids Off The Streets

Photo credit: Gloria Hilliard for NPR

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Just dropped the new Straight Outta Compton Movie trailer, paying homage to the legendary N.W.A #StraightOuttaCompton

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In November 1995, Dr. Dre and Tupac went to Compton, California, to shoot their “California Love” video. They stopped in the middle of the street by the Compton Swap Meet and got out to talk to the people. An 8-year-old Kendrick Lamar was there, sitting on his dad’s shoulders, transfixed by the West Coast legends. “Subconsciously, it sparked something,” Lamar told WGCI-FM’s The Morning Riot. “I always kept thinking about that moment.”

In the almost 20 years since then, Lamar has hustled his way into the company of those rappers he watched in 1995. He’s now under the tutelage of Dre himself, and he spoke to Tupac posthumously on his fantastic new record, To Pimp a Butterfly. Some of the biggest West Coast rappers call Lamar the “king of West Coast rap” — an even more valuable credential than his two Grammy Awards, No. 1 record and a Generational Icon award from California’s 35th Senate District.

None of that came easy. And the story behind how Lamar earned his crown only makes it shine brighter.