Garrett Caples

We be clubbin'? Just barely

Why the Bay has a hard time harboring hip-hop venues
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One night around 11 this spring, I stepped out of a cab at Sixth and Mission streets, only to enter a chaotic scene. Enhancing the block's usual charms — destitute dudes in wheelchairs, crack enthusiasts, an old man in a denim skirt clutching a baguette — was a row of police cruisers parked in the street. Officers roamed the block, herding people around.

Had I stumbled onto a grim tragedy? Nope. I was just trying to catch a hip-hop show. Read more »

"Conflux Vignettes"

Brian Lucas, Daniel Glendening, and Julie Oppermann spark up Mama Buzz Cafe
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REVIEW Being unpatriotic, I spent the Fourth of July observing indoor fireworks at the opening of the group show, "Conflux Vignettes," at Mama Buzz Café's Buzz Gallery. I was lured in by poet-painter Brian Lucas, whose 2006 book, Light House (Meeting Eyes Bindery), is out of print but obtainable secondhand. Like his longer poems, which accumulate as aphoristic remarks, Lucas' abstractions accrue in obsessively worked increments. Read more »

Back Fasheezy

East Oakland hyphy god Keak da Sneak drops his new full-length
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After three and a half years chasing rappers for the Guardian, I've met, photographed, and finally interviewed Keak da Sneak, but never all at once. Getting ahold of E-40 is a breeze compared to tracking down Keak. One of the only Bay artists whose singles routinely play on KMEL, even hitting number one locally with 2005's "Super Hyphy," Keak is perpetually hot and therefore elusive. Read more »

The house that Hiero built

The veteran rappers of Hieroglyphics open their doors to young street crews PTB and Livewire
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**Update: The Paid Dues Independent Hip Hop Festival has been cancelled. See below for more details.

I'm not accustomed to receiving rappers at my home at 8 a.m. — an hour most rappers have only heard of — but I made an exception for Tajai Massey, member of Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics. Read more »

On like him

After surviving Bay rap's millennial drought, Eddi Projex emerges as a force with Now or Never
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I'm typing this with one hand, because I'm patting myself on the back with the other. According to Eddi Projex himself, I'm the first writer to ever interview him, back in 2003 when he was a member of Hittaz on tha Payroll, who'd just released their retail debut, Ghetto Storm (Hitta). It was the tail end of the Bay's turn-of-the-century commercial drought, yet the group — including Polo, Curcinado, and Fletchberg Slim — sold almost 4,000 copies. Read more »

Shocked, G?

Digital Underground's last Bay Area show ever?
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When I first heard Digital Underground in 1989, via "The Humpty Dance," little did I imagine it would someday fall to me to announce the group's end. After a 20-year run — including five albums, one EP, one rarities disc, solo albums by Shock-G and Money B, and a helluva lot of touring — DU are calling it quits. Their Feb. 22 show at the Red Devil Lounge may be your last opportunity to see these putf8um Bay Area OGs. Read more »

Messy Marv at large

After a year in jail for gun possession, Messy Marv hits the ground running
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Even the short list of elite Bay Area rappers — say, Too Short, E-40, Keak Da Sneak, and Mistah FAB — must include the Fillmore's own Marvin Watson Jr., a.k.a. Messy Marv. Read more »

Year in Music: Time out?

The good, the Bay, and the hyphy
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This ain't the hyphy movement, bra-bra.

Beeda Weeda, "(I Rep Oakland) I Don't Rep the Bay"

It was a strange year for my long-running obsession, Bay Area rap. After two years of steady building, the scene reached a plateau in 2007, for various reasons. On the one hand, many of the hottest acts — from OGs San Quinn and E-40 to youngsters J-Stalin and Beeda Weeda — dropped discs in '06 and have spent this year prepping follow-ups. Read more »

My dinner with B-Legit

While prepping his new album, the East Bay rapper warms up the street with Throwblock Muzic
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I meet B-Legit in Concord for lunch at the Elephant Bar, an appropriately massive venue for a rapper of his stature and talents. With three albums by the Click — a group including his cousins E-40, D-Shot, and Suga T — and five solos under his belt, B-La hardly needs an introduction. Along with Too $hort, the Click started the Bay's independent hip-hop scene, beginning with their 1989 12-inch under the name MVP. Read more »

Out of the shadows

Shady Nate, the number two rapper of West Oakland's Livewire crew, emerges as a boss
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So if you see me, I be where they don't battle rhyme

28 and zipper or Eighth Street and Adeline

— Shady Nate, "Banga Dance (Remix)" (Zoo Ent.)

I meet up with Shady Nate at Eighth Street and Adeline, in the Acorn neighborhood of West Oakland, where he spent his youth. As we scout locations for photos, a man walks by peeling a tangerine. "I survive in West Oakland," he mutters, more to himself than to us. Read more »