Willy Staley writes the blog Nation of Thizzlam. He knows a lot—a lot—about rap from the Bay Area. If we knew him better we’d say he was obsessed with it, but it’s easier (and maybe more reasonable) to say that he’s just very dedicated to it. He came to us a little while ago, proposing that it would be cool to get the legendary Andre Nickatina to sit down with Roach Gigz, who was playing a New York show with him to talk about rap. Nickatina is famously skeptical of doing interviews, and decided not to talk to anyone, so instead, Staley spoke to Roach about getting confused in New York, custom burritos and—what else?—the weirdness that is the Bay rap scene in the post-hyphy boom. —Sam Hockley-Smith
How many times have you been out to New York recently? This is my second time this year. I came out like in 2009, ’cause my cousin was living in Philly. I went out to see him, and then we came out here to act a ass. We didn’t have no hotel room, nowhere to stay, nothing, but we came out here, and it ended up cool.
Where are you staying this time? Up on 42nd Street. I walked out the hotel and I saw people taking pictures, upwards, so I looked up and I was like “Oh my god, it’s the Empire State Building!” I was just amazed that our hotel was across from the Empire State Building. Then we called somebody and said, “We’re staying across the street from the Empire State Building. They were like ‘That’s not the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building is on 34th, you guys are on 42nd. I’m like, “SHIT!” [laughs] I was gonna tweet that shit, too, like, “I just walked outside of my hotel room and looked up and it was the Empire State Building.” And it fucking wasn’t.
It was the Chrysler Building, yeah? Yeah, it was the Chrysler Building.
When you’re out here or in Oakland do you ever miss San Francisco? It’s too crowded. Once you go to Oakland, you just feel hella more relaxed. And I come to SF, it’s hella traffic jams and hella this, hella that. And I’m like damn, man. It’s cool when you’re on the bus, but when you’re in a car you start getting hella mad.
When you do go back there, what’s your favorite burrito spot? La Cumbre. My mom always brought me to La Cumbre since I was a little kid. And it was crazy, I just saw La Cumbre on the Travel Channel. I was like, “WHAT!?” Right there on 16th and Valencia. That was my spot. Also there’s this spot right there on Church and Market, right next to Blockbuster, like right across from Safeway. Since I went there I had to abandon my past. Because the shrimp and chorizo burrito—like combine them, and they give you this fat burrito and that shit is so good.
Shrimp and chorizo together? Is that off-menu? That’s what I tell them to make me.