Class of 2007: J.Nash

"I'm about to eat your ass like soul food."

SUPERLATIVE Most Likely to Get Nasty

QUOTE "I'm about to eat your ass like soul food."

If you're looking for the future of hyphy, vocalist J.Nash is already there. Never mind that his versatile vocals link the two hottest Bay Area rap albums this year: Mistah FAB's Da Baydestrian (SMC) and Turf Talk's West Coast Vaccine (Sic Wid It). His own album, Hyphy Love (Soul Boy/Urban Life), is a genre unto itself, a fusion of hyphy and R&B that Nash calls R&Bay. Hailing from East Oakland's Murder Dubs — otherwise known as the 20s and home to Beeda Weeda, who appears on Hyphy Love — Nash used to rap, but, he points out, "Everyone was rappin', so I switched," employing skills learned primarily at church. Nonetheless, apart from a brief stint as a member of vocal group Rewind, he says, "I always messed with rappers, like Laroo and Keak."

Nash's date with destiny, however, was meeting up-and-coming rapper FAB, who appeared on Nash's 2005 out-the-trunk album, Real Man (Soul Boy), shortly before blowing up with Son of a Pimp (Thizz Ent., 2005). "I thought I was doing him a favor," Nash says with a laugh, acknowledging how much the association with FAB boosted his career.

FAB protégé Rob E also produced half of Hyphy Love, letting his hair down even more than on Baydestrian. These tracks are fleshed out with productions by heavyweights like Droop-E and Sean T, whose beat on "Hyphy Dancin'" transforms the sound with a throwback '80s paint job, resulting in one of the disc's most unique songs.

Lest anyone think Hyphy Love is all hyphy and no love, Nash delivers a number of excellent, more conventional slow-jam-style ballads, with a flexible tenor that moves up to alto and down to baritone. As an artist who writes his own material, Nash never suffers from the lyrical banality typical of contemporary R&B. Like R. Kelly, whose work he admires, Nash brings out the nasty. There's something hilarious about hearing the line "I'm sucking on those big ol' boobs" delivered with the agonized passion of a slow jam. It's a much more realistic thought in a sexual situation than the usual "Hold you in my arms" crap.

Nash has already started to generate buzz thanks to a lo-fi video for his advance single, "Cupcakin," with J-Stalin, which has scored more than 35,000 hits on YouTube and has been cross-posted all over the Net. A second, more professional video for the more hyphy "Show You Love" has just debuted. Expect live shows in clubs around the Bay.

"Once you see me perform," Nash says with a rapper's swagger, "it's over. I got you. You're going to become a fan." (Garrett Caples)

Also from this author

  • Stalin: Darkness Visible

    With his new album, Bay Area boss J.Stalin shines a light on Bay Area rap — and his own 12-year career

  • The secret life of Sylvia Fein

    The 94-year-old painter comes to terms with her surreality in a new retrospective

  • Break on through

    Michael McClure reflects on his "beast language" classic

  • Also in this section

  • Good things, small packages

    33 1/3, the ultimate record collector's novella series, turns 10

  • No thanks, Bono

    Three new albums that should magically appear on your iPod in place of Songs of Innocence

  • A show a day: Your fall music calendar

    FALL ARTS 2014 Like a daily multivitamin, your recommended dose of live shows through November