Turf's up - Page 2

Oakland MC Beeda Weeda is smokin'

In 1992, at age 15, Peeda was shot by the Oakland Police Department and left paraplegic, one of many victims of the neighborhood's most violent period.
As the ’90s wore on and Beeda entered his teens, he began making tracks, inspired by neighborhood musicians who would eventually form the core of the PTB production squad. "Most of them are older than me," he says. "They were into music before me, so I was looking up to them. We got Big Vito, GB, LG, Tre, Miggz, and G-Lite."
"My partner from the neighborhood, J-Boog, was rapping, and I started making beats," Beeda continues. "But I didn't start getting serious until I did a track called 'Hard Hitters' for a little group I put together called Dying 2 Live. It came out on an actual CD."
While "Hard Hitters" didn't cause much of a ripple in Bay Area hip-hop's late-’90s commercial doldrums, it was sufficient to establish Beeda Weeda as a neighborhood beatmaker, attracting the attention of up-and-coming rapper Lil Al.
"We hooked up, and I started slanging beats to him," Beeda says. "He was, like, 'Man, let's be a group,' so that's when I started really writing. We put out a whole album, all original music, and pushed it in the streets. We pressed it up ourselves. Did all the artwork. I damn near engineered, produced, and mixed the whole thang. It was called Just an Introduction by Lil Al and Beeda Weeda." Released on their own Young Black Entrepreneurs label in 2002, Just an Introduction would quickly sell out its 500-copy run and make the pair's reputation in the streets as young rappers.
"At the same time," Beeda confesses, "we wasn't really eating off the music, so we had to do other things to make money. Bro got caught up in some bullshit, had to do a little time." With Lil Al in prison, plans to press a more professionally packaged Introduction were abruptly shelved as Beeda was forced to evolve into a solo act.
"I did a few songs, and I was just pushing it through the Dubs," Beeda continues. "My music has a lot to do with my environment, certain situations that happen to me or my people. I was basically just making music for me and my niggas."
Such a local focus, crucial to the Turfology concept, is what gives the album its distinctive flavor. Granted, it mightn't be to everyone's taste: Scratch's generally positive review faults PTB's use of "the synthesizer," which makes me wonder how the writer imagines hip-hop is made in the hood. If there's sense to this remark, it's in the fact that Beeda and company don't hide the instrument’s "synthness." They push big chords composed of the most unearthly sounds right in your face.
As for the suggestion that Turfology at times "sounds like one overlong track," I can only guess the reviewer is accustomed to the 16-tracks-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-each-other formula of most rap discs. Turfology has a sonic coherence sorely lacking in contemporary hip-hop, the stuff that makes for classic albums. The PTB producers are clearly riffing off each other rather than chasing the hyphy train, yet they don't sound like they're in a vacuum. The in-house tracks on Turfology blend seamlessly with beats by young North Oakland producer Jamon Dru of Ticket Face, Charlie O of the Hard Labor camp, and East Oakland's Mekanix.
"Their music is real current and authentic," says Clear Label Records head Tajai during a session for the upcoming Souls of Mischief album.
Tajai heard some of Beeda's demos by chance in a friend's car and immediately got in touch with PTB. Having dropped several of his own solo albums and collaborations, Tajai was looking to expand his roster with other artists. Along with Baby Jaymes and R&B singer Chris Marisol — both of whom are scheduled to release albums next year — Beeda Weeda and PTB made Clear Label suddenly one of the hottest imprints in the Bay. Tajai dismisses the notion that a hood rapper like Beeda is incongruous with Hiero's "backpacker image." "Hiero is from East Oakland.

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