Got some real heat coming out of the Bay Area recently! A few different generations, underground to some of the higher levels of success, all great music and all from around here. If you are a part of the Bay Area scene – dancer, rapper, DJ, artist – please hit me up when you have something to promote! –Benjamin Cohn, @DaWhatBenja
E-40 – Slappin ft. Nef the Pahroah and Dram
E-40’s latest song “Slappin” is like an updated version of our hyphy movement. It is unmistakably Bay Area from the Rick Rock beat to OG 40 water punch lines and one of the more buzzin up-and-comers, Nef the Pharoah. Plus now E-40 gets to reference Sluricane and his various other alcoholic beverages. The instrumental takes the staples from 2004-2009’s music but stripped away many of the more annoying elements that didn’t age as well. And I couldn’t believe how at home D.R.A.M. sounded on this cut! Is he really from Virginia??
Dregs Ill Sugi – Emotion ft. Gas Mask Colony
This is proof of hip hop’s ability to transcend borders, a true display of hip hop’s global reach. Dregs-One is the wordy, intelligent emcee from San Francisco that many of us already know. Ill Sugi is a producer from Tokyo, Japan that found Dregs’ music on the Internet; the two worked together online until Sugi visited the Bay and the Universal Language album was born. Cascade Records is the French label that released this album. The gritty, grimy video matches the beat’s vibe on “Emotion”. Dregs-One and fellow SF natives of the Gas Mask Colony take you to a few spots around the city as they rap about situations where one might get emotional.
“Keep the melody moving / going through the motions when my emotions are flowing through the music / it’s proven, the beat therapeutic / tradition is deep rooted”
Iamsu! - Dogs
Wooo!! Suzy goes IN! I love when Iamsu! makes those super catchy, more melodic tracks but it is also fun when he decides to really rap too. Like his verse on E-40’s “Function”, Iamsu picks his flow up a bit and delivers a straight barrage of non-stop bars. Trauma Tone’s bare, trap sounding beat only lasts 2 and a half minutes but sets the pace right as needed.
“Speak to the plug in Spanish / Hola amigo, que paso? / On 23rd with the vatos/ Niggas be feeling themselves, get filled with them shells / Bitch it’s like a taco”
Oakland rapper Daveed Diggs is having quite the year. He has been starring in the musical Hamilton on Broadway and it was just announced that the play would be making a run here in San Francisco next year, 2017. He recently sat down with 7x7 to discuss his Oakland upbringing, how the Bay Area will receive Hamilton and hip hop’s influence including, “In the Bay, we breed nimble-tongued rappers, and we also over-enunciate; we hit our Rs really hard… So, I get a lot of really good, fast rap moments [in the show]—stuff that plays to my strengths.” Read the full interview here.