Billy Jam

Show us the money

Rap ruled at the Bay Area's Showtime at the Apollo auditions
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By 9 a.m. on July 28, 13-year-old Bay Area music-star hopeful Nyles Roberson, accompanied by a support group that included his mom and two other family members, had secured a coveted position at the very front of the line outside the doors of the Oakland Convention Center. Read more »

On the download: Plan B

Who Needs Action When You Got Words
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PLAN B

Who Needs Actions When You Got Words

(Cordless Recordings)

"It's disgraceful like getting caught pissing in the sink," new British rap talent to watch Plan B spits during one of the many raw, attention-grabbing moments on his stateside debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words. Born Ben Drew, Plan B is the angry, guitar-strumming, Cockney-accented East End, London, rapper whose thought-provoking, hardcore lyrics are exactly what hip-hop needs. Read more »

Going mobile

Funky Riddm Records survives the merciless music industry by taking it to the Berkeley streets
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On a recent sunny afternoon in Berkeley, the head-nodding rhythms of Barrington Levy's '80s dancehall hit "Here I Come" could be heard wafting down Telegraph Avenue. As the outdoor reggae mix continued, the music's mysterious source soon became evident. Right off the ave on the corner of Haste were two chunky 10-inch JBL speakers, booming. Read more »

Get in the Vans

The Pack are young, gifted, and black -- and have a hook on the "punk rock shoe"
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Not surprisingly, a sneaker store was the meeting place for two young members of the popular East Bay hip-hop quartet the Pack, whose slow and smoldering bass-heavy runaway rap hit "Vans," about the "punk rock shoe," has the infectious hook "Got my Vans on, but they look like sneakers."

"Me and Stunna went to the same school. So we knew each other," Lil Uno said. "But one day we just both happened to be in the same shoe store ... Read more »