Wednesday, October 25, 2006

bay area rap video lounge, vol. 4

Keak Da Sneak's farm

Federation, "18 Dummy"

2Pac, "I Get Around"

Zion I, "So Tall"

The Pack, "Vans"

J-Diggs, "Thizzness"

Black Dynasty, "Deep East Oakland"

Mistah F.A.B. freestyle

at last, listen to hyphy discussion at commonwealth club!

Been meaning to put this up for a while!

The audio broadcast of "Roots of Hyphy" panel at the Commonwealth Club aired on KALW on August 29, 2006

Click on this link and scroll down to July 26, 2006 to listen to the audio. It was an interesting chat (except my contributions, of course). I especially liked watching Mistah F.A.B.'s former high school teacher beam with pride in the back of the room.

Domingoyu (aka Daniel Zarazua, who teaches at Unity High in East Oakland) compiled his astute thoughts right here. (Thanks, D.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

yay area politickin'

If you're free tomorrow evening, come represent at a very rare hip-hop panel at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, one of the nation's top public affairs forums:

ERIC ARNOLD, Reporter, East Bay Express
MISTAH F.A.B., Artist, Thizz Entertainment
TAMARA PALMER, Author, Country Fried Soul: Adventures in Dirty South Hip Hop; Reporter, SF Weekly
TRAXAMILLION aka THE SLAPP ADDICT, Producer; King of the Hyphy Sound
ADISA BANJOKO, Journalist; Author, Lyrical Swords, Vol. I and II - Moderator


The Bay Area rap scene is witnessing its largest resurgence since the early 1990s. Like southern "crunk," the Bay Area "hyphy" phenomenon is a production style, dance and mind state sweeping the country. Popularized by locals E-40, the Federation and Keak Da Sneak, "hyphy" means "going dumb & gettin' loose." This panel will attempt to separate the popular drug elements of the hyphy movement from its social, political and musical roots.

6:00 p.m., Registration | 6:30 p.m., Program | 7:30 p.m., Wine and cheese reception | Club office, 595 Market St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco | Free for Members, $15 for Non-Members, $7 for Students (with valid ID; to reserve student tickets call 415-597-6705) | Directions to The Club.

More info at the Commonwealth Club Web site .

Monday, June 12, 2006

i love writing about earl

[originally published by the Associated Press on June 1]

E-40 enjoying big sales with album

For The Associated Press

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) -- It's been nearly 20 years since E-40 (Earl Stevens) first started slinging slang and selling his independent albums out of his car trunk throughout the Bay Area. The 38-year-old rapper recently released his 12th studio album, "My Ghetto Report Card," executive produced by Lil Jon. It reached No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/hip-hop albums chart and No. 3 on the Top 200.

In an interview, he talked about "hyphy" - defined as a youth-oriented movement that has its own dances, slang, fashion and car culture - its home and its history.


AP: How do you explain hyphy to people? Is it here to stay?

E-40: Hyphy started in the streets of Oakland. The origin of the word is just straight wild: "Better watch out, boy, he's hyphy, he might do something to you!" Being hyphy is energy, like the cousin of crunk and I feel like it's going to be here forever where it started. That doesn't necessarily mean the buzz on the sound and the movement is going to be here forever, but the kids are the future and they're hyphy. This generation coming up here in the Bay Area, they're hyphy and I don't see that going out no time soon. I didn't invent the word hyphy and I'm not trying to say I'm the king of hyphy. I'm just a dude from the Bay Area that's about my whole region. I love every bit of it and I'm just here to let the whole world know, "Hey, come take a look at us."

AP: Is hyphy a safe expression of aggressive feelings? Would places like Atlanta and the Bay Area be edgier without things like crunk and hyphy?

E-40: I think without it, it would be more violent. Hyphy is letting it out. Don't hold it in, don't hold back. Let it out. Scream, shake your dreads, act a damn fool. Release it, slowly. It can relieve stress, because once stress comes to a head, it's over.

AP: Have you seen it diffuse the tension in a room before?

E-40: Oh yeah, definitely. When I had my club (the Ambassador's Lounge in San Jose), I saw it a lot. I saw cats really hyphy, but having fun and not bothering nobody. Just juiced and having fun, with so much energy. That's what it's about. Music is therapeutic and healing. Music is really a medicine, it can make you feel good.

AP: Few kids in the Bay Area have music programs in their schools now. Is this the sort of thing that happens when kids are forced to do without?

E-40: Yeah - I grew up in music, playing drums from the fourth grade all the way up to 12th, because that was our only form of (musical activity). There wasn't ProTools or studios in your house or project. It was all manual and we didn't have access to anything electronic. We had to use what we had. When I was in the marching band, I used to take my snare drum and turn it over and use my drumstick and scratch on the other side. That was just being creative ...

AP: Why was it important to you for your album to not just be all Bay Area styles and sounds, but to feature guests from all over the country?

E-40: It was a natural extension of my friends and people that I admire and wanted to work with. I'm a universal dude. I've been rapping on some crunk beats and getting down on the South music for years. I feel like I can do it all. I can do snap music.

AP: What is snap music? It's kind of like a child of crunk, right?

E-40: It's more laid-back than crunk. In its own way it has a lot of energy, too.

AP: Why has it taken so long for the national scene to notice Oakland and the Bay Area again?

E-40: I don't know. We always have been bypassed like the surgery for some reason, and I feel like there's so much talent here. In the Bay Area, it isn't just all about hyphy. We all endorse the movement, but at the same time there's different flavors out here: We've got backpack rappers, we've got R&B singers, female and male. We've got reality rap, giving it to 'em straight and not giving it to 'em late. Telling it like it is. We do it all. With that being said and without boasting, I think it took the single "Tell Me When To Go" to really get 'em woke to us here.

in the lab

Be back soon with some great exclusive Yay business. . . hot off the press like a bootleg. . .

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The singular genius known as Shock G has a great Web destination that's definitely worth checking out. Among many other jewels and surprises, including a really sweet free download area, visitors will find a complete collection of Shock's cartoon strip, "The Assholes."

The "What's Up" section on the site has recently been spruced up and expanded with more timely news and tour info. Hopefully the benevolent Webmasters (Da Noses, I think they're called) won't mind that I just had to post this flick they put up of a recent gig, where Shock chopped it up with Tommy Lee. Note Mr. Lee poppin' his collar!!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

bay area rap video lounge, vol. 3

Too $hort, Blow the Whistle

The Coup, Ride the Fence

RBL Posse, Bounce To This

2Pac and Digital Underground, Wassup Wit the Luv

Celly Cel, It's Goin Down

Ray Luv featuring Link Crew, Definition of ah Hustla

Hieroglyphics, You Never Know

The Click, Hurricane

2Pac, Gettin' Money freestyle in Marin

Spice 1, 187 Proof

E-40 featuring Spice 1, Celly Cel and Mac Mall, Dusted N Disgusted

Thursday, May 11, 2006

red light special?

MC Hammer reports on his blog that, with Sting's blessing, he and Jermaine Dupri are going to record their own take on "Roxanne."

Let that marinate.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

hyphy meets crunk inna dark warehouse uptown

[Originally published in Atlanta's Creative Loafing on 5/10]

Hyphy Fidelity
Crunk's roarin' cousin puts 'paint where it ain't'

"We relate to hyphy here in terms of it being the Bay Area version of crunk," says DJ Nabs of Hot 107.9 FM. "It doesn't really mean that we know what's going on there, though."

Even people in Northern California scratch their heads in amusement and confusion when it comes to hyphy, the term for the youth-driven hip-hop scene of the day. As undefinable as crunk, but just as simple to demonstrate, hyphy is a spirit. When someone is beyond hyper, dancing with the energy of a thousand Holy Ghosts and the wild abandon of a mosher at a Limp Bizkit concert, they're hyphy. While it lacks the combative aggression of L.A.'s krumping and clowning, even Tommy the Clown would appreciate seeing how the youngsters shake their dreadlocks and invent bold new steps.

Some of the slang phrases connected to hyphy -- including "go dumb," "get stupid," and the ever-popular "ride the yellow bus" -- allude to retardation. But with no genuine offense intended to those with mental challenges (though some kids outfit yellow buses with large rims and strap on helmets), the analogy is meant to encapsulate that crazy feeling of letting loose.

The dancing and music of hyphy is a modern outgrowth of the longtime streetcar culture of Oakland, most particularly from the impromptu gatherings called sideshows, where rubber burns under the heat of continual donuts and gas/brake dips. But it ain't some Southernplayalisticadillac cruising. On Peachtree, it's about preening and luxury flash, but in Cali, it's about ghost-riding the whip -- hanging out of, on top of, or dancing alongside cars that are "magically" driving themselves. The emphasis is on technical MacGyverism -- how many tricks can we make our old-ass hooptie do?

"I've never ridden in a car with hydraulics in my life; that's not what we do here, but we do have 'scrapers on dubs,'" says Clyde Carson, member of Oakland rappers the Team. Carson also recently launched Hyphy Juice, a "grapple" (grape and apple)-flavored rival to energy drinks like Nelly's Pimpjuice and Lil Jon's CRUNK!!!. He studies the business ventures of the biggest Southern and East Coast rap stars and applies it to marketing his Bay Area lifestyle. Hyphy Juice should help stoke a growing national interest in the music itself.

"Hip-hop is always evolving and it's always mutating -- it just mutated into hyphy," explains Too Short, the multiplatinum Oakland-bred rapper who has made Atlanta his home for more than a decade. "It just took on another leg, another arm. It's not really saying that this [alone] represents the Bay. It's just a dance, it's just an attitude; it's a movement. The dance is what brought the whole movement about, but an actual musical sound came up out of it. That's where I step in and go, 'Whoa, you're on to something.'"

"Musically, we put paint where it ain't," says Rick Rock, the producer credited with the club-driven sound of the movement (as well as hits by Jay-Z, Fabolous and Busta Rhymes). Rock has worked on many of the most loved tunes from the Bay Area's biggest rap star (and hyphy ambassador), E-40, and shared production duties with Lil Jon on 40's recent album My Ghetto Report Card, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts -- a first for the artist.

Rock's proteges Federation, the trio behind the 2003 Bay Area hit "Hyphy," recently signed with Warner Bros. after a bidding war that also included J Records and Universal, among others. "Hyphy" set the sound of hyphy in place: high energy, like crunk kicked in the groin and ready to wild out. Like Lil Jon, versatile studio wizard Rock knows the key to longevity is to continually reinvent his sound while maintaining a certain vibe, especially as others are frantically biting the hyphy records he made more than three years ago.

DJ Nabs says that, beyond E-40 and Lil Jon hooking up for Report Card, the hyphy sound is still nonexistent in the local ATL clubs and on the airwaves. And that may not change unless the artists and the music are cleverly marketed.

"I don't think that's a slight to the Bay Area," he says. "It's just that people's regional sounds take precedence over other people's regional sounds." Little surprise, given Atlanta's national reputation for supporting its homegrown talent on the radio considerably more than other regions do.

It might not be an easy road to national acclaim, but there is still tremendous business potential for enterprising Bay Area artists in the hyphy movement -- just look at Clyde Carson and Hyphy Juice. Years after Dirty South artists followed the blueprints of the independent rap hustle of Too Short and his Bay Area brethren, it's now kids in Oakland looking to Atlanta for strategies of success.

"I'm trying to be a guiding light to these youngsters," says Too Short. "I'm like, 'Man, don't make the wrong decisions. Don't sign stupid contracts, don't let nobody else get your money and jack it off.' I'm thinking like that. Don't turn the hyphy into a dance that comes and goes. Turn this into a business that supports families and kids and generations. It's somebody's kids going to go to college because of crunk music. Somebody's kids are gonna get a trust fund because of crunk, you know what I'm saying? Let's do that with the hyphy."