Co$$, the rapper born Troy Johnson, is putting the finishing touches to his upcoming album, "Genesis," which was produced by Numonics. The two worked on a song two years ago.

"I’m the type of artist that if I write one song to a producer’s beats, I’ll write two or three more," says Co$$.

Co$$ draws inspiration from a wide spectrum of artists, from 2Pac to Regina Spektor, but he is probably most influenced by his neighborhood, the Leimert Park area in Los Angeles.

"It’s the only area in LA that’s still majority black," he says. "So I find it special that Leimert Park is LA’s last black utopia. It’s not super-hood, but it’s not upper class, either."

"We’ve got our gangs and our issues, but it’s also a very-tight knit community," he continues. "It’s a nice place to live. It’s also known for jazz and the soul of hip-hop is in Leimert because there would be no hip-hop without a jazz influence, especially in my music. Everything I do, Leimert pretty much bleeds through it."

Three Hot Spots

Earlez Grille, 3630 Crenshaw Blvd.: "I go to [Earlez Grille] just to write. I’m broke a lot, so I don’t even go up there to buy food. They’re real cool with supporting and letting artists come in and sit down with their laptop and just vibe out. It’s got a nice atmosphere."

Phillips BBQ, 4307 Leimert Blvd.: "This is my favorite spot to eat. It’s kind of expensive, but I like the mom-and-pop spots. I also like to just drive around Leimert. I’m kind of reclusive. I’m in the house a lot, but you’ll see me in the neighborhood. I might be parked out on Rodeo."

WIng Stop, 3825 Crenshaw Blvd.: "I write a lot in front of the Wing Stop on Crenshaw, which is right outside of Leimert. Anywhere I can go and see people is where I’ll be, because people influence my writing. I like to just park my car and write my rhymes as I look at people walk past."

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