To trust or not to trust in Thizz City — the dilemma of SF rap
"Not only did gentrification break up families, but families that stayed let personal problems get in the way of coming together," DaVinci said. "Fillmore used to be a whole, and now it's broken up into different sections. Families who were keeping it together moved or got bought out of they houses, and we're left with sprinkles of people who don't know each other well. Or the second generation from them isn't able to connect the dots like, 'Oh, my pops used to go to school with him; he's cool.' It wasn't instantly beef, but it was more like, 'I ain't fuckin with them.'<0x2009>"
As the aforementioned Chronicle article notes, SF has the most rapidly dwindling black population in the country, and the Fillmore, prime real estate in the middle of one of the most expensive cities on earth, has particularly felt the squeeze.
"The neighborhood's shrinking every year," DaVinci says. "It's like, first you had two blocks for your territory, now you only got half a block. You do whatever you can to protect your half-block, even if it means you just fuck with these two niggas on your block. People don't trust each other. And that's reflected in the music because the music always reflects what's going on in the neighborhood."
Everyone I spoke with agrees that the lack of unity in SF rap is a problem. It's bad for business, even locally. Town Thizzness, for example, has been thriving since 2008 while Thizz City is just getting off the ground, though they were conceived at the same time. "It's like there's a dark cloud over the city," DEO of Evenodds sighs.
Occasionally a ray of light breaks through. Berner, a Mexican Italian SF native whose duo projects with the likes of Jacka also made Billboard noise, recently brokered what seemed impossible: getting Mess and Quinn on the same track — twice! — for his new collaboration with Mess, Blow (Blocks and Boatdocks) from Bern One Entertainment.
"I'm a fan first," Berner says. "To be able to bring them together after all the problems is the greatest feeling in the world."
They may have recorded their parts on opposite coasts without personal interaction, but that Mess and Quinn agreed to appear together sends a powerful message. Yet the tension in SF rap runs far deeper than any one dispute and Rich, for one, is tired of it.
"People be like, 'We need a meeting, all the rappers come out,'<0x2009>" he says. "Every meeting, niggas say 'This is what we need to do, this is what we gonna do,' then everyone puts their hand in the circle and we break out the huddle. And niggas go out that room like, 'Fuck that nigga.' So I gotta carve my own lane and stay in it."