Garrett Caples

Can't stay away

After 20 years on Jive and a decade in Atlanta, Short Dog goes independent — and returns to the Bay

MUSIC "What can you do at the age of 44 that's relevant?" a philosophical Too Short asks over brunch at the Buttercup in Oakland. "It can't be good; it's gotta be critic-proof."Read more »

Let's hear it for the Boy Boy

In the midst of controversy, Messy Marv revamps his company -- and himself.

'80s babies

J Stalin's Prenuptial Agreement soundtracks the first generation born during the crack epidemic


I'm from the city of gangstas and broken dreams / where we hopin' the Lord hear our silent screams / but this dope money helpin' my self-esteem — J Stalin, "Self-Destruction"

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Nothing like it

DECADE IN MUSIC: From mob to hyphy to crack -- the decade in Bay Area rap

Guardian illustration of E-40, Mac Dre, and Mistah F.A.B. by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

Crack baby anthem, you can feel this music — Mistah F.A.B., "Crack Baby Anthem," from Baydestrian (SMC, 2007)

DECADE IN MUSIC In retrospect, it's easy to see 1999 as the end of Bay Area rap's glory. The '90s mob music era was pretty good around here. Too Short had paved the way from releasing local discs to landing a major deal. Read more »


GOLDIES 2009: A rapper with a grassroots rise and a "No Hoe" radio-readiness

"Rappin' wasn't my first dream," admits 20-year-old D'Angelo Porter. "It was pro basketball. I always had good grades because of basketball."

Yet fate had other plans for the man known as D-Lo. A dabbler in rap who'd only made a few tracks, D-Lo went into his friend's studio alone one night in February 2007, determined "to find [his] swag" on the mic. He made a stomping, minimalist beat — his first — on Fruity Loops, over which he discovered his style: a hyperactive staccato with a slight rasp, a little like Keak Da Sneak in a higher register. Read more »

Do you remember?

Five years after his murder, Mac Dre is the Bay's rallying cry


hot vocals

everywhere I go

I get love from the locals — Mac Dre, "The Genie of the Lamp"

MUSIC "A mack is different from a pimp," Mac Mall tells me. "A pimp would starve without a woman. But a mack is a master of creativity. He can manipulate any situation."

As a "third-generation mack" from Vallejo's notorious Crestside hood, Mac Mall knows whereof he speaks. Read more »

Who the hell is Esinchill?

East Oakland's best kept secret finally gets a deal — will he get the respect he deserves?

MUSIC "Esinchill is one of the most ... " Mistah F.A.B. pauses to reconsider. "No, Esinchill is the most underrated rapper in the Bay."

I agree, and "underrated" in this case means "underknown," because, once heard, Esinchill's talents are undeniable. His is a lyrical wit based more on word choice ("I go from extremely docile to routinely hostile") than punchlines. With a million flows at his disposal, he's equally able to freestyle or compose. Read more »

"John Anderson: A Retrospective"

Among the great unknown painters of the 20th century

REVIEW John Anderson is among the great unknown painters of the 20th century. I say "20th" because, though living, he was forced to stop painting in 2003 due to Parkinson's disease. He painted voluminously, beginning in the 1950s, but seldom exhibited, and he's never had a show on the scale of his current retrospective. As Gordon Onslow Ford's studio assistant, he learned about abstract automatism from a master, and was invited to live on Onslow Ford's extensive Inverness estate in 1966, where he remains today. Read more »

Confessions of a Bo-Fessional

THE DRUG ISSUE: Leanin' on codeine and promethazine with Shady Nate and Livewire


That Bo & Sprite, I mix it up and tip it every day and night

Shady Nate, "Bo & Sprite," The Bo-Fessional

DRUGS I'm in the backyard of Shady Nate's aunty's house on 28th and "Zipper" (Chestnut Street) in West Oakland, watching Lil Rue of Livewire pour four ounces of purple syrup into a liter of Sprite, which turns the hue of pink champagne. With the residue, he coats a cigarette, Shady coats a Black&Mild, and Jay Jonah coats a blunt, which sputters and foams as it burns. Read more »

Street TV

Ray Luv's pushin' the Bay TV and The Dame Fame Show

Ray Luv came up with a pre-Digital Underground 2pac in their group, Strictly Dope, and wrote "Trapped," Pac's first single from 2Pacalypse Now (Priority, 1991). Grandson of Cab Calloway, he's among the few rappers to be close to both Pac and Mac Dre, who brought him to Crestside, Vallejo's Strictly Business Records for his EP, Who Can Be Trusted? (1992), leading to a deal with Atlantic for his classic LP, Forever Hustlin' (1995). He's done everything from lecturing in Europe to pimping during Bay rap's early '00s doldrums. Read more »