First nicknamed the Rolling 20s in the ’70s, then the Twomps in the ’80s, the group of East Oakland avenues below MacArthur and between 19th and Fruitvale avenues received its present designation, the Murder Dubs, in the early ’90s, when a neighborhood hustler named P-Dub began a lethal reign of terror in an effort to control the local drug trade. Naturally, this didn't endear him to the community, which locked its collective doors to him the night his number came up, leaving him to be gunned down in the street by pursuers circa 1994.
Yet despite this violent legacy, the vibe in the Dubs seems remarkably friendly, at least in the company of its most famous son, 23-year-old MC and producer Beeda Weeda. Head of the sprawling Pushin' the Beat (PTB) camp — whose roster includes a half-dozen talented producers, as well as rappers like Lil Al the Gamer and veteran crew Under Survalance — Beeda is on familiar terms with most of the neighborhood, though this doesn't prevent a nearby group of kids from treating him like a star.
"Are you really Beeda Weeda?" one boy asks. "My name's Beeda Weeda too!" A girl asks for his autograph. "Go get some paper," the rapper answers, and the kids race home for supplies, allowing us to finish our photo shoot before Beeda poses with his fans and surrenders his signature.
Far from letting it go to his head, Beeda Weeda seems merely amused at his newfound celebrity.
"People see you on TV and they think you rich and famous," he says with a laugh, referring to his video for "Turf's Up," which has been in heavy rotation on VJ-TV (Oakland cable channel 78) for several months, in addition to receiving more than 70,000 plays on YouTube. There's a vast gulf separating local access from MTV. Still, Beeda has already made inroads into MTV terrain, not the least of which is his contribution to E-40 and Keak Da Sneak's "Tell Me When to Go" video.
Beeda explains, "40 heard about me and knew I was still in the mix in the town. He didn't even know I did music when we first hooked up. They wanted to get the elements of the street, the whole sideshow thing, so I helped him do the casting in terms of the cars, the locations, things like that."
Drawing on their extensive neighborhood network, Beeda Weeda and PTB's in-house video guru, J-Mo, would end up exerting a considerable influence on the image of hyphy in the national consciousness, due to the video's success on MTV. The experience also netted PTB some of the unused footage, not to mention high-profile cameos by E-40 and Lil Jon, for its "Turf's Up" video. More recently, Beeda and West Oakland partner J-Stalin were filmed together in the studio working on their upcoming album, for a segment of an as-yet-untitled MTV reality show following cub reporters for Rolling Stone. (MTV exec Ryan Cunningham confirmed nothing save that the segment was likely to air. Presumably, some sort of Rolling Stone article will run.) At the time of our photo shoot, Beeda's solo debut, Turfology 101, was about a week away from its Aug. 29 street date and had already been reviewed in the latest issue of Scratch. Released on Souls of Mischief–Hieroglyphics member Tajai's Clear Label Records and distributed through Hiero/Fontana/Universal, Turfology has just enough major-label clout behind it to get itself noticed even on a NY magazine's New York–centric radar.
He may not quite be famous yet, but as Beeda Weeda is forced to acknowledge, "My name's starting to ring bells."
WHAT'S THAT SOUND?
Some rap names are chosen; others, given. In this case, Beeda Weeda is the rapper's childhood nickname, derived from his association with Peeda Weeda. "He was like my OG when I was a little kid," Beeda says.