Labels come and go. Not long ago, Moedoe and Frisco Street Show were among the most important outlets for Bay Area rap. Now both manufacture energy drinks instead: Hyphy Juice and Hunid Racks, respectively. Rap frequently favors money over artistry, but eliminating the art entirely is a bit much. To pose the Jacka's musical question, "What happened to comin' the dopest?"
The answer may be found at 21st and Mission streets, home of SMC Recordings.
"Rap's a hustle because of where it's from," 26-year-old co-owner and A&R head Will Bronson says. Read more »
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 »
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 »
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 »
**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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »