It seems to me these past few years have been a time for Bay Area hip hop to truly shine. However, with E-40 approaching 50 years young, the seemingly quiet demise of Lil B, and an exodus that includes promising up and comer Roach Gigz, is the Bay Area rap stock taking a turn for the worse? Two words would indicate otherwise: SWTBRDS and Davinci. The former is an indie label based in the Bay that has an ear worthy of scientific study, these guys more than have their finger on the pulse. The latter, Davinci, is on the label and is ready for national exposure. Like the Giants, perhaps it’s not time to count the Bay out quite yet. The highly-anticipated album, MOEna Lisa, drops in October, the 7th I believe. This track is the third single released, in the tradition of Kendrick’s The Recipe.
40 Love is one of those groups that make you think of trendy fusion food. For the most part, I am wary of any attempts to mash together race, style, and musical genre. But that’s because I’m a staunch racist. (I kid, I kid). Usually I find a clash of styles and sounds to be just that, a clash that comes across as forced and gimmicky. That is not the case with this foursome hailing from SF/Bay Area who have been making a lot of noise with this upcoming album, Dreams Don’t Sleep.Currently the group is in Europe touring and promoting the albumwhich drops on July 24th. They feature both a female and male emcee (Miss Haze, G-OFF), the two trade some furiously fast bars with each other on this track, making a quick believer out of this part time neo-phobic listener.
Mondays are for low budget videos with melodic undertones. Thanks Dregs. You can download this track off “The Inspiration” mixtape here. I know it’s hard out there for a pimp, but I assure you, it’s harder for emcees with 9-5′s who possess content and an appreciation for good music that doesn’t sound like G.O.O.D Music. Stay pushing son.
Not all rappers are meant to be community activists, or to open the populations’ eyes about important issues. Nobody wants to hear Snoop or Gucci Mane pretend like they know how to improve the public school systems. That is just not part of the identity that they have created for themselves. Yet when an MC does makes the conscious effort to educate and promote progressive thought in their listeners, I got to give credit where credit is due. They may not get as many fans as someone who raps about the clubs and the corners, but it’s a great usage of their opportunity to reach the people.
Therefore I got to give serious props to San Francisco’s Dregs One, of the Gas Mask Colony, for the fact that he is using his status as a rapper to get a worthwhile message out to his audience. Yet the interesting thing about it is that he’s doing it without rapping. Starting this December, he is creating a monthly video series called The Wake Up Report, in which he discusses important and relevant issues that pertain to our communities.
In episode one, Dregs discusses Gentrification. While for the most part it only focuses on San Francisco, anyone who has ever lived in a metropolitan area recognizes that every major city is experiencing gentrification to some degree. San Francisco is just a city where the problem stands out more than others, because due to it’s small size (it’s only 46 square miles, compared to Los Angeles: 469, Chicago: 234, and New York: 469) there are literally less and less places for people with low incomes to go.
If you caught our interview with The Jacka from earlier this year, then you know that he and Lee Majors recently released an 80’s themed album called The Gobots 2: D-Boy Era. In the interview he also talked about having a collaboration album with Paul Wall in the works. Well “Patty Cake” ft. Paul Wall, the 2nd and most recent video off The Gobots 2, is probably a good example of what you can expect from both.
If you missed the first video from The Gobots 2, “Female Funk” ft. Shad Gee and Young Loxx, peep it after the jump. I actually prefer it to Patty Cake. Dope bass line, 80’s gear, and break dancers. Legit.
On the national level, Big K.R.I.T. has been one of those artists who came out of nowhere (Mississippi to be exact), but the release of his debut album/mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (hear what you’ve been missing) instantaneously got the entire internet on his ball sack like some itchy crabs. Yet I have to admit, I’m another one of those pesky critters, because I believe K.R.I.T. deserves all of the praise he’s receiving. Not only does he rap his ass off about everything from drugs and strippers, to religion, the prevalence of STD’s, and the lack of genuine work opportunities for the lower class, but he produces the ENTIRE album himself. And while most people talk about his down to earth mentality and his ability to balance his insightfulness with some straight ahead riding music, I think he’s probably a better beat smith than a rapper. His southern roots take center stage, yet his instrumentals sound like updated versions of Riding Dirty or The Fix rather than extensions of Crunk or Trap music. While few of his beats will make you want to stomp someone out (although “Country Shit” might), all are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and get your head rocking back and forth in that all too familiar motion. I give credit to his sample usage, which has been missing from too much of Hip-Hop recently. Obviously he’s proud of his sample game as well, because at the end of his press release announcing K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, this message was written:
“P.S. We dug deep into the crates for the music & movie samples on this one. The first person that can tell us which samples we used, will receive 1k cash & a pan of Shipe’s famous brownies.”
While I am not a contender for the prize (I could use the cash, but something tells me famous brownies from Mississippi don’t compare much to Northern California), there are few people from The Bay, who have been building their presence in the game as well, who can easily help answer that question. Moe Green and Davinci are both members of KMEL’s Bay Area Freshman 10’s inaugural class, have both been featured on ZIF in the past, and both MC’s had a recent single that shared a sample with Big K.R.I.T.. After the jump, see which tracks they are, and who I give the nod to on the production and lyrical end of things. Then in the comments, voice your opinion and let us know who you think made the better track from the common samples.
*Warning* Big K.R.I.T. released K.R.I.T. Wuz Here at a really low volume (actually my only complaint about the whole project), so you will probably have to turn his tracks up higher than the other two to properly compare them.
I’ve always had this prediction that when we are all forgotten dust, anthropologists are going to study the deep lexicon of rap music. And when they do, E-40 is going to be the equivalent of Shakespeare; his bars are arguably the most complex , especially considering that 99.99% of the people who do live in Earl Stevens’ time-period cannot decode his tempest of slang.
The Hundreds, always committed to rooting their garments in California history, have just unveiled their collaboration with the living legendary E-40. This shirt, which shall be sold starting tomorrow at The Hundreds shop in San Francisco, is chalked full of E’s slang.
P.S. word to all of the future E-40 scholars Luniz feat. E-40, Dru-Down, Richie Rich & Digital Underground- I Got 5 On It (remix)
After reading PeD’s very arguable comments about Bay Area producers, I thought it was fitting that my last trip to the clearance rack involved me purchasing Shady Nate and Jay Jonah aka Da Heavy Hittaz’ contribution to DJ Fresh’s Tonite Show series. For those of you unfamiliar with this series or The World’s Freshest DJ, it’s time to acquaint yourself quickly. Each disc finds Fresh making all the beats while he chooses an artist/group to feature on the lyrical tip. He is by far one of the Bay Area’s most promising and without a doubt most hard-working producers, and this became blatantly evident last year. Fresh had about as ridiculous of a 2009 as one can have as a producer. In addition to releasing his own compilation album which featured his regular Tonite Show collaborators as well as Kool G Rap, Murs, The Jacka, Strong Arm Steady (with Mitchy Slick), E-40 and Too $hort, he handled the entirety of the production duties on albums for Frisco OG’s, San Quinn and Messy Marv, the newest Bay Area radio sensation, D-Lo, my favorite up and coming Yay Area spitter, Young Gully, The Grouch from The Living Legends (who is an ill producer in his own right), Wu-Tang’s own Raekwon (although it will unfortunately not see the light of day due to some label issues on Raekwon’s end), as well as the project I am reviewing for you today. From a producer’s stand point, handling 100% of the beats for over 8 albums in a single year is fucking mind-blowing. Than add the caliber and diversity of artists that he’s working with, and it is no surprise that he was awarded Producer of The Year at the 2009 West Coast Hip-Hop Awards.
Yet despite my love for Fresh, I have to admit that Shady Nate and Jay Jonah’s album is not the best example of his talent. If you want to hear something more representative of his skills check out The Tonite Show: The Album, The Tonite Show with Young Gully or D-Lo, or download his free beat tape Make The Song Cry Part 3. But back to this project, I think it’s needless to say that in a year when he is producing for the likes of Lex Diamond, E-Feezy Fonzarelly, Young Mess, and Fillmoe Quincy, it’s very unlikely that Fresh gave Nate and Jay Jonah the pick of the litter in terms of slapz. Additionally, if PeD had said that there were very few MC’s from the bay worth keeping an ear out for, I would have still disagreed, but understood where he was coming from much better. Shady Nate and Jay Jonah are perfect examples of the standard Bay Area rappers that are pretty average in talent, but rather than showing potential to be great, they leave the listener thinking that their skills and subject matter will most likely stay stagnant throughout their entire careers. I hope it’s not the case, because I think Shady Nate has some serious promise, but it’s definitely the sentiment this album gave me.
I know think I’m a fuckload little late on this one but when I came across this gem I had to post it. Little Dragon is one of Sweden’s illest bands right now (and the singer is smoking–she’d be the girl, of course) and Trackademicks is one of the Bay Area’s only most noteworthy producers, having produced tracks for Little Brother, Mistah FAB, J* Davey and Kid Sister; ?uestlove and the Fool’s Gold clique have both given the Alameda-native their nods of approval. Swing over to the very cool website RCRD LBL to download Trackademics’s remix of “After the Rain.”
Little Dragon-”After the Rain”(Trackademics Remix)
The Heavy blog just compiled a list of what they call the worst hip-hop album covers of all time. Certainly a thorough list, scope it here, the one above caught my eye. This cover is from AP.9 of the bay area group Mob Figaz. I remember the first time I saw this one, it was a late night and I was taking the 24 line home. It being around 3:00 AM, the bus was deserted. Dozing off, my eyes shot open as I looked up and was startled at AP’s disturbing scowl, staring at me from what I imagine was a street-team placed sticker. The problem with this album cover breaks down to a trio of faux pas:
*the Photoshop work is actually decent but for what?
*whose idea was it to reference the Grinch? Dr. Suess is not that intimidating.
*I was shamed for being intimidated by such a lame and illogical cultural reference.
After four years in Los Angeles, I am finally back home in The Bay. In my opinion, The Bay Area is simultaneously one of the most under and overrated locations for all of hip-hop. On the one hand, the hyphy “movement” has unfortunately given most outsiders an image of bay area rap that consists of a bunch of ignant ass dreaded motherfuckers, dancing outside of their moving cars while yelling about being so stupid doo doo dumb, that they need to bust out their bike helmets. This has resulted in a strong belief that Bay Area music is cornier than Nebraskan shit, and is unworthy of seasoned ears. While I see where some of y’all are coming from, it’s just wrong. The Bay has birthed the careers of great commercial and underground MC’s, Producers, and DJ’s. Anyone who claims that E-40, Mac Dre, Too $hort, Hieroglyphics, Blackalicious, The Living Legends, Zion I, Rick Rock, E-A-Ski, Traxamillion, Dan The Automater, DJ Q-Bert, Mix Master Mike, and Peanut Butter Wolf has nothing to offer to the world of hip-hop, has absolutely no clue what the fuck they’re talking about. At the same time, there are many Northern Californians who exclusively listen to Bay Area music, which I also think is ridiculous. They may have never heard a verse from Royce Da 5’9”, but they would treat you like a four year old speaking out of turn if you didn’t thoroughly believe that The Jacka’s Tear Gas was one of, if not the best album of 2009. Jaka’s shit was dope, and I strongly believe that you should proudly rep where you’re from on a regular basis, but only listening to artists from a specific geographical region is just way too limiting.
Now that I’m once again living in the birthplace of independent rap, thank you Too $hort, I am trying to get back into the local music scene, and see who from The Yay has the skills to impress hip-hop fans regardless of where they are from. While chances are the clearance rack won’t give you something completely up to date, it is a really good, low risk way of giving some local MC’s and Producers a chance. That’s why when I saw Ya Boy’s 2005 debut album, Rookie Of The Year, for $2.99, I went for it.
Look, Young Money, there are a lot of really pretty girls in the world–lots of them. But, you have to admit that your said-sexual conquest is a tad bit irrational, every single girl in the world?
San Francisco rapper A1 has reworked Young Money’s declaration to make it just a touch more pragmatic. Also, if you’re in the San Francisco-area on October 22nd, be sure to peep him at the Blue Macaw, on Mission between 21st and 22nd.
The other day, Jake asked me who my favorite Tweeter is. This really got me thinking about a dynamic I briefly touched on last week–that people or artists who you enjoy in the real world are by no means necessarily as enjoyable on Twitter. That being said, Bay Area rapper Mistah FAB (someone who I, until I started following, had virtually no knowledge of) is right up there among my faves (whutttup Mala & Questo). From being the first to wish Malcom X happy birthday, to relentless and brash Laker hatred, to painfully tweeting with the runs while in line for the can on an airplane, Mistah Fab has utilized the medium to a fantastic equilibrium: he’s consistent but keeps his tweets intelligent. He’s even written a song about tweeting, grab it here and then hit him on Twitter.