The Bay Beat vol. 2: Super Bowl 50, J. Lately, J Stalin & Philthy Rich, HipHopForChange


Back with Volume 2 of #TheBayBeat!

Before I get started, I HAVE to take a moment to honor, remember and extol The Jacka. The Oakland Native was tragically gunned down one year ago, yesterday, February 2nd. Mob Figaz, the solo work, collaborative projects with Andre Nickatina, Freeway, Berner, Dubble-OO, Lil Keke, Messy Marv and so many more. He gave us a ton of music, was an influential member of the Bay Area’s scene and was taken far too soon.

As most of the United States knows, Super Bowl 50 will be played in Santa Clara this Sunday, February 7th. What does that mean for the Bay Area hip-hop scene? Well Miguel, DJ Khaled, Fabolous, Travis Scott, Eric Bellinger, Diddy, Ne-Yo, August Alsina, Pharrell, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, French Montana, T.I., 50 Cent, Alicia Keys and I’m sure many many more will be joining some of our biggest names from Keak Da Sneak and E-40 to star-in-the-making Kehlani on stages across the Bay. I can’t tell you how many hip-hop artists will be out here performing, hosting events or just partying at your favorite club. Keep your eyes open; you don’t want to miss these chances!

Next up I got a new video from J.Lately. The well-composed video features J.Lately reflecting back on someone that plays a much larger role in his mind than they do in his life. Director Andrew Elsayid’s rain and low-lit video backdrop builds on the foundation that Oops darker production’ built. “How many mother#$%in songs can I write?” J.Lately and Della ask, admitting both regret and fault about things past, asking for a potential shot in the future. “All About You” can be found on the recently released album Let’s Just Be Friends. J. Lately was also recently named one of 2016’s Top 15 to Watch For by Da-What+Friends.

J. Stalin and Philthy Rich stopped by Sway’s Universe while out in New York for an in-depth interview. I hope I don’t have to remind y’all about Sway’s hometown or that this is an all Bay affair. In addition to the standard radio interview discussion about the respective artists’ background, their upcoming projects and what the world has going on, J. Stalin and Sway dug a bit into the Bay’s history. These guys give us a very long list of talented artists from all around the Bay; Stalin admits that for the first time, he thinks, the movement is working together. Sway even confirmed that one of the main reasons he left the Bay Are in the 90s, after creating the Wake Up Show, was a lack of unity and backlash. If you have 45 minutes or need something to throw on while you work, here you go.

You can catch J Stalin live at Slim's on Sat. March 15, 2016.

Lastly, I’ll conclude with a Bay Area shoutout to another hip-hop educational group: HipHopForChange. This Oakland based organization uses hip-hop music and the surrounding culture to help combat socio-economic injustice. Their grassroots activism includes speaking engagements, educational discussions and workshops to engage in important discussion; HipHopForChange even raises money for efforts that help alleviate these problems too. To accomplish these goals hip hop concerts are produced, they broadcast on KPOO, and even release mixtapes with progressive messages. If you are looking for ways to get involved in using hip hop for good, this is a great place to start.

Tune in next Wednesday for Volume 3 of the Bay Beat. If you want something considered for a future issue – reach out on Twitter with the hashtag #TheBayBeat!

-Benjamin Cohn, @DaWhatBenja

The Bay Beat vol. 1: The Jacka, Kamaiyah, Mozzy, Caleborate, Locksmith, Zion I

The first installment of “The Bay Beat” a new weekly column covering Bay Area Hip Hop brought to you by Slim’s Presents and Da-What.  Although I have been out of the City much of the last 7 years, I was born and raised here in San Francisco.  An avid hip-hop fan for much of my life, I’ve been running, bringing what's new to the public. Now that I am back in The Bay, I am working with our local venues to promote our local music. Slim’s believes in this as well and is providing a platform for the latest in Bay Area Hip Hop news.  Moving forward “The Bay Beat” will appear every Wednesday at  My coverage of the week will include newly released music, event info, cultural discussions and typical rap debates.  We want you to have a voice as well! If you have some ideas for upcoming editions, hit me up on twitter @DaWhatBenja and make sure to use the hashtag #TheBayBeat.

Having introduced myself and the column, starting next week I will begin to cover new events. In the meantime, we have videos from some of my favorite Bay Area emcees – Kamaiyah, Mozzy, Caleborate, Locksmith, Zion I, The Jacka - and a few shout outs below.

Q102 – The Throwback Station
Since 2014, Q102 has been blasting old school hip hop through the Bay Area’s speakers at a consistently quality rate.   It is nice to have a radio station that is playing anything different than the popular rotation, no shots fired!, let alone 80s, 90s and 2000s hip hop/R&B.  If you don’t know about the Bay Area’s role in hip hop radio history, please go check into KMEL/Sway & King Tech and that era!

The Thizzler
I’m sure there are other hip hop blogs dedicated to Bay Area hip hop but The Thizzler is the first one I knew of and one that has done a great job of promoting our music.  What started as Matt Werner’s personal blog now reports shows, introduces Bay Area Freshmen, releases mixtapes and more.  If a Bay artist releases a new track, I will bet that The Thizzler will let you know about it.

Today’s Future Sound
These are the guys creating the next generation of Bay Area musicians. And the one after that. The Oakland based organization teaches music production, beat making and DJing to youth around the Bay Area. In fact they have put on workshops all over the country and executive director Dr. Elliot Gann recently traveled to Senegal for a program on conflict resolution and diplomacy in partnership with the State Department and the University of North Carolina. TFS hopes to further their mission based in the belief in “the power of music to transform and inspire youth to create positive change in their lives and communities.”

My Breakfast with Bowie – Slim’s 1997

I had just started working at Slim's (in the box office) in 1997. The ladies of the office (Dawn and Dana) had somehow managed to keep it QUITE a secret that Live 105 was planning a Breakfast with Bowie morning here at the club. The day I found out, I nearly fell out of my chair. I offered to do anything to help... serve bagels, pour coffee, etc.... whatever it took. That's exactly what I did (at the rather ungodly hour of 7am!)To be in a room with just a couple hundred lucky fans... and Bowie... was amazing. I also decided to be brave and brought along my copies of Ziggy Stardust and The Hunger soundtrack on vinyl. Having only worked here at Slim's a few months, I had no idea if I might be crossing any lines, but I was ready. So ready.

The interview & performance were (of course) amazing. A car was parked and waiting in the alley and Bowie was soon to leave. I knew I had the green light when Dawn said "if you're going to do it, now is the time." I met him at the top of the stairs, said hello, thanked him for a wonderful morning and asked if he wouldn't mind signing my records. He joked that he had never seen The Hunger on vinyl - so of course I offered him my copy. Thankfully I got to keep it.

Needless to say, it was one of the best days... ever. I think of that morning quite often. The audio of that amazing morning surfaced on YouTube a couple of years ago and I've made it a habit of posting it on FB every year for his birthday.

Thank you, David Bowie, for... everything.

~ Tracey Buck


Artist Spotlight: Whiskerman


Some people say the music scene in SF is dead - while we could debate that statement at length, it is much simpler to exemplify it, with a band like Whiskerman. Known in the Bay Area for their often raucous shows, Whiskerman is a Bay Area band that gives us hope for local live music (*please don't move to L.A.!). Now, with NOMAD, their new album produced by Jeff Saltzman (The Killers, Dept of Eagles), there’s no holding back. Whiskerman has taken to lush string arrangements framing bold prophetic lyricism in their most recent effort. Fronted by Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Graham Patzner, Whiskerman utilizes the structure of a classic rock band to convey a timeless familiarity, luring the listener into a new mythological landscape with a story for our time. The songs of NOMAD were written through the anxiety and uncertainty constantly revealing itself in our society towards the collapse of industrial civilization. Somehow they manage to make it all sound so catchy.

Whiskerman has gone through basically all of the growing pains a band can go through from their folkier self titled first album to their soul driven EP, BAD NEWS Produced by Tony Berg. Drummer Nick Cobbett, Lead Guitarist/Sitarist Charles Lloyd and Bass player Will Lawrence, all active members of this growing machine for 5 years, bring a tight groove, powerful dynamics and virtuosic chops to the landscape of Patzner’s songs. They finally found a match in Jeff Saltzman, who worked closely with the band to push them from their rock and roll backbone into a grander more symphonic sound. Working with their new label, OIM Records, the momentum and ambition continues to grow for this humble quartet.

On Friday January 8 at Great American Music Hall, Whiskerman will have their Album Release Party. Featuring Papa Bear and the Easy Love & Scary Little Friends - 2 more Bay Area bands that keep the flame burning, deep inside San Francisco.

Artist Spotlight : Benji Hughes

If this is the first time you've heard the name Benji Hughes - we truly don't think it'll be the last! Benji Hughes released his debut album, entitled A Love Extreme on New West Records in 2008. It's a killer album! And was recorded with acclaimed producer and Los Angeles session musician Keefus Ciancia. Hughes' live band during this period contained a rotating cast of notable members, including Barbara Gruska (of Jenny Lewis) on drums, and solo-artist and producer Jonathan Wilson on guitar and backing vocals!

In 2011 Hughes appeared on Jeff Bridges' self-titled country album. He also appeared on Meshell Ndegeocello's album Weather, contributing vocals on two songs and receiving writing credit on three.

Hughes released four new albums via his website in November 2014. XXOXOXXSongs in the Key of Animals, and OXOXOXOXOX are bundled as a set on 4 CDs or a flash drive. In August 2015 it was announced that Hughes signed to Merge Records and would release a new full-length album in 2016.

We can't wait to hear the new album, debuting in SF on Friday, January 29 at Slim's! Get your tickets now :

Ultimate HSB Experience in Support of Steve Earle Foundation in NYC


On Monday, December 14th, Steve Earle & The Dukes are hosting a benefit concert at The Town Hall in NYC to help raise important funds for children diagnosed with Autism. This will be the first show in New York City since Steve Earle and The Dukes’ new album Terraplane. Joined by Jackson BrowneJustin Townes Earle and The Mastersons, this evening of amazing music is sure to be a memorable one. All net proceeds raised by ticket sales will be donated to the McCarton School, which provides year-round individualized instruction to children with Autism, ages 3 to 21. McCarton specializes in teaching students the academic, social and motor skills needed to lead full and productive lives as they integrate into their communities. This is a topic dear to Steve as his 5-year old son, John Henry, attends the school.

Tickets & VIP tickets are available here:

To show our support, HSB is offering a one-of-a-kind Hardly Strictly Ultimate Experience which includes:
-round-trip airfare for 2 to HSB16 - from anywhere in the continental US!
-1 room at a charming San Francisco boutique hotel for 3 nights
-2 exclusive Friends & Family passes for the festival - plus onstage seating for Steve Earle's performance!
-1 signed HSB 2008 poster, by artist Claude Shade.
-2 VIP tickets (orchestra seats) to the upcoming Town Hall Show on 12/14.

The Ultimate HSB Experience is available here:…/steveearleultimatehardlystrictl…

We all appreciate your support - thank you!

Jim Meko: A Remembrance


AUGUST 9, 2015 — Jim Meko, president of the SoMa Leadership Council and a former member of the Entertainment Commission, died August 3 at the age of 66. He had been hospitalized at UCSF for two weeks after suffering a massive stroke. San Francisco has lost a model community activist—an outspoken democrat who walked his talk with intelligence, persistence, and that too-rare quality in public figures: a great sense of humor. - Zelda Bronstein / 48 hills

Read on and join us here at Slim's on Mon. 8/17 as we celebrate the life of our friend Jim.