5 under-the-radar rappers from the Bay Area you should know about

Featuring Yatta, Bby Laana, Aflacko, Benny, and CashClick Boog.

September 05, 2018
5 under-the-radar rappers from the Bay Area you should know about


Hip-Hop in the Bay Area has a rich history: mobb, its first notable movement, was established in the 80's as G-Funk’s underground and more hardcore cousin from up north. The gritty, decelerated funk sound was pioneered by acts like Too Short, JT The Bigga Figga, Dru Down, and too many more to name. In the 2000s, we got the pervasive hyphy movement which focused more on partying than its predecessor. Hyphy was spurred on by increasing use of ecstasy, (thizz if you’re from the Bay) and was characterized by active, bass-heavy production, and lyrics that at times could be described as goofy. The movement was headed by the late, and often deified, Mac Dre, and popularized by artists such as Mistah F.A.B, and mobb hold overs such as E-40 and Keak Da Sneak amongst others. The Bay’s current climate can be considered the result of a marriage between the two, albeit incorporating influences from all over, as the internet’s made regional conventions slightly less binding.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Bay Area is a proud region, one that has given a lot to every genre of music throughout the decades. It’s also a region with a heavy chip on it’s shoulder from a perceived lack of kudos for its contributions to popular culture, whether it be through its imaginative slang, dance moves, or sound. With the rise of Bay Area bred stars such as G-Eazy, Kehlani, Kamaiyah, and SOB x RBE, that sentiment is beginning to change. Every day in the Bay Area, a new artist appears with the ability to become the next big thing. Here are 5 under-the-radar rappers in a scene that produces them at breakneck speeds.

Yatta

Yatta, of San Francisco’s Sunnydale neighborhood, first made his way onto the scene in 2015 with his standout verse and hook on Lil Yase's breakout single “Get It In.” The record launched both his and Yase’s career but, due to a string of stints in jail, Yatta could never fully capitalize on the record’s momentum. Even today, the rapper, whose high-pitched and aggressive delivery has been mimicked and repurposed on songs by other local acts, sits in a prison cell serving a hefty sentence. That hasn’t stopped the celebrated emcee from engaging with fans through freestyles on Instagram, singles, and guest features recorded from behind the walls. As recently as August 17th, he released “Tired” an introspective and apologetic offering recorded Mac Dre-style, over the phone. Until he’s back on the streets and in the studio, fans have steadfastly called for his release with the hashtag and phrase, "#FreeYatta til it’s backwards." If they can keep that same energy, we may see Yatta’s cult following grow into something even larger.

Bby Laana

Hailing from San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood, Bby Laana fell into rap through dissing a high school rival, and not much has changed since then. Her bars range from character attacks aimed at adversaries, and threats of bodily harm and robbery, to the disposal of dishonest and unloyal suitors. She began receiving attention in 2016 for car-freestyle videos posted to her Twitter. Fast forward to today, she’s collaborated with SOB x RBE’s Lul G, released a number of singles, and has used her charm and relatability to mobilize a loyal social media following that feverishly requests new music. She has yet to release a complete body of work, but is working on a debut opus her fans will undoubtedly appreciate. If she can continue releasing quality records consistently, Bby Laana stands a good chance of breaking out of the Bay.

Aflacko

Aflacko’s been able to amass millions of plays on SoundCloud, and has done so quietly in the region. The East Oakland artist employs a lethargic, sing-songy delivery, not dissimilar to some early Chief Keef, that works well when coupled with the lo-fi mixing of his vocals on songs like “Most Hated.” He’s got a knack for crafting catchy melodies that are easy to sing along to, and pens lyrics about the perils of his upbringing, money chasing, and treacherous friends and lovers. His most recent release, “Loyal,” finds Aflacko doing what he always does, but this time over chill boom-bap production. The new single underlines Aflacko’s willingness to experiment, as well as the pliable nature of his voice.

In May, Aflacko released his 8-track EP ForDaGang, which includes collaborations with Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Yase. He may be a rapper that even the Bay Area is still getting to know, but he’s working hard. If you’re in the know, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

Benny

What do you get when you combine Drake’s tendency to sing vulnerably and Band Gang’s abundant gun bars? You might get something like Benny, the North Vallejo rapper that counts the Detroit group among his influences and is rapidly making a name for himself in the Bay Area. Benny’s greatest strength lies in his versatility. On one record, he’ll serenade a willing lover and, on the next, he’ll spitefully, and graphically might I add, threaten to send bullets from a 40 caliber pistol to an enemy’s doorstep. 2018 marked the first time Benny released full bodies of work. First with June’s Dangerous, and second with August’s Soul Snatcher with DJ Gutta Butta. Both albums highlight Benny’s duality and seem to hint at a promising future.

CashClick Boog

South Richmond’s CashClick Boog first caught a significant wave of attention in 2017 with “Not Guilty,” a celebratory reckoning with his acquittal of conspiracy to commit murder charges stemming from a 2016 case. Visually, the towering rapper may inspire vague comparisons to the late-great Notorious B.I.G., but the similarities end at looks. Where B.I.G’s flow was airtight and meticulously steered, Boog uniquely delivers his bars with loose control, so casual that it isn’t uncommon for syllables to land around an eighth-note later than you’d expect.

If you aren’t looking closely, you may mistake Boog for a Detroit artist and it makes sense. The TF Entertainment-affiliated rapper tends to split his time between the Bay Area and Motor City. His sound also blends well within the city’s landscape. Detroit and Bay fans are allured by his credible reality raps, his ear for production, and his ability to craft hits for the streets and strip clubs. Standouts, “Gang In Here,” and “Key To The Streets,” a collaboration with Tee Grizzley, expertly display those three qualities.


5 under-the-radar rappers from the Bay Area you should know about