Tonight from 7-1opm at the Adidas store in Berkeley, our tall friend DJ Eleven presents "a vinyl history lesson on Bay Area hip-hop" with the Hiero crew backing him up. If you can't make it out to Telegraph, however, do yourself a favor and grab Eleven's superb Best Of The Bay mixtape, two discs of hits, forgotten favorites, and other Northern Cali gems. After the jump, Eleven expounds on many of ttracks off Best Of The Bay's two CDs, filled with all sorts of anecdotes, history lessons, and dancing fat girls. READ ON!
California Livin' - Mac Dre
Since being killed on Nov. 1, 2004, Mac Dre has become an icon in the Bay Area (much in the same way as 'Pac & BIG did after their too early passings). Every rapper, young or old, shouts him. Everyone has a story to tell about an interaction they had with him. Released in 1992, "California Livin'" is about just that: the California lifestyle. Players sipping Hennessy, dropping the top, Chevy races, and having sex in the strangest places.
Sideshow - 415
Other than a moderate hit with "Let's Ride" and a guest verse on the remix of T-Boz' "Touch Myself", few folks outside of the Bay know about Richie Rich, the voice of most of 415's biggest songs. Rich takes the listener on a tour of the sideshow, complete with name checks, block checks, and directions: "if it's high performance than swing it, if it's a motorcyle you better serve, and if you get a ticket you better deserve it."
Garcia Vega - 11/5
I managed to miss this song on the tracklist until my homies Matthew Africa & Sake One pulled my card ("Yo, umm, where the fuck is the 11/5?"). I remember in the mid-90's my man Myke One would kill clubs with a set that included this joint, RBL Posse's "Lesson To Be Learned" ("bitch I thought you knew, bitch I thought you knew!"), "Bammer Weed", and Mac Dre's "Too Hard For the Fuckin' Radio". It was always a sign that it was time to grab your jacket cause a fight was about to pop off. Man, I miss those parties.
Bammer Weed - RBL Posse
RBL (Ruthless By Law) Posse dropped two album on In-A-Minute Records, a label run out of a one-stop distributor called Music People. Music People had a policy where they'd sell records to DJs at the wholesale price as long as they were a working DJ. I got my first taste of Photoshop assisted fraud trying to make myself a business card to take in there to get records for a $1.25 cheaper. It was the only place I can remember seeing Outkast's Southernplayalistic album on vinyl and I decided I'd pass and grab it next time I was in. They closed before I got back to cop it. I'm still mad about that.
Doowutchyalike - Digital Underground
DJ Fuze has been around the world more times than he can count, first with D.U. and then with The Luniz. He's got GREAT stories. One of my favorite is him, Shock G, Money B, and a couple other folks drinking so much one night that Shock got sick in the limo. While he was wearing the Humpty Hump glasses. Imagine someone throwing up while wearing a fake nose, and puke coming out of the fake nose. They did how they liked.
Get Ma Money On - Ray Luv
Santa Rosa, California is not known as a birthplace of great MCs. But out came Ray Luv. I ran this joint when Cosmo, Ayres & I did The Rub in San Francisco a couple weeks ago and it still kills. Trackademicks BUGGED OUT! (What up Jason!) It was a beautiful sight.
When My Homies Call - 2Pac
I try not to say this too loud in some circles, but I never really like Pac very much. He just always seemed to be trying too hard. But I've always liked this song because it's just genuine. Thug Life tattoos = doing too much. "Being down 'til the e-n-d" = that's real.
Many Clouds of Smoke - Total Devastation
People in the Bay Area like weed. They just do. And they really like making songs about it. This is another record that reminds me of Myke One. We were djing together at the old Storyville in San Francisco and this kinda hippie-ish girl that I was kinda hollering at - and kinda failing at - came up and requested this joint from Myke. Being the gentleman he is, Myke waited until she had turned around to roll his eyes and launch into a tirade about how hippie girls always want to hear this joint.
That's When Ya Lost - Souls of Mischief
To me, one of the most important things to understand about Bay Area hip hop is the breadth of styles. Souls and the whole Hiero camp are more closely associated with the New York hip hop aesthetic, but they're Oakland through and through. Part of the beauty of the Bay is that everyone can do their own thing and it doesn't have to be the same as the next guy.
'93 Til Infinity - Souls of Mischief
Classic. 'Nuff said.
The Humpty Dance - Digital Underground
Like I said, Fuze has got stories for days... As he tells it the Humpty Hump character was created when he, Shock & Money B went shopping for clothes on Telegraph Avenue for the "Doowhutchyalike" video shoot. They stumbled into Anapurna (a head shop which has been there for as long as anyone can remember) where Shock found the glasses that would become the character we all know and love.
Too Hard For The Fuckin' Radio - Mac Dre
Mac Dre & Mac Mall are both from the Crestside section of Vallejo and were part of the same crew (the name of their label was Young Black Brotha Records), and were heavily influenced by, Michael Robinson, aka The Mac. Michael Robinson was yet another young black brother who was killed in street violence.
Short But Funky - Too $hort
He's short, he's funky, and he spells his name with a dollar sign. Truly the fucking man.
Player's Club - Rappin 4Tay
When this record was running the radio in the Bay, I hated it. It seemed to get burn every 15 minutes. It drove me crazy. Ten years later, I can't get enough of it.
415 - Richie Rich
Over a Black Byrds sample, Rich reps for the 415. (415 used to be the area code for almost all of the Bay Area, before it was split in to 415 - San Francisco & the West Bay - and 510 - Oakland & the East Bay.) Playing tour guide again, he takes us almost block by block through East Oakland (96, 77, Sobrante Park, 6-9) shouting out folks by name along the way. Makes me imagine him riding thru the Town on one of his Harleys, just stopping thru to say what's up to everyone along the way.
Mistadobalina - Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
Del is right around my age and just about everyone I knew had some story or other about him, which varied from dead-on truth to complete fabrication. One of my favorites, and one which could go either way, was from a friend who claimed he sold Del most of the weed he spent his advance money on. Del couldn't drive so my friend had to always meet him at BART (the Bay's sorry-ass attempt at a subway) stations around Oakland. He'd pick Del up at the station, take him to the closest empty parking lot, business would be conducted, and Delvon would get taken back to BART.
Unsolved Mysterme - All City Productions
All City Productions was a spin-off of the Wake Up Show / 10 O'Clock Bomb crew. With engineering by King Tech, production by Joe Quixx, and vocals on this winning b-side by Mysterme, it's a banger. Plus the cover art is by O.G. Bay Area grafitti artist Spie. (What up Eric!!!)
Swan Lake - Blackalicious
I caught on to the Solesides guys (DJ Shadow, Asia Born - later Lyrics Born, Blackalicious, Lateef, DJ Zen - aka Jeff Chang, and crew) well after the dope 12"s. But, I did manage to catch Blackalicious' first EP, Melodica, after hearing "40 oz. for Breakfast" on KALX. I read an interview with Shadow years ago where he was talking about how he chopped up the horn sample for "Swan Lake" into 30 something parts without a sampler, using only tape editing.
187 Proof - Spice 1
Every time I hear this song, I think of Saeed's. It was one of a very small handful of liquor stores in North Oakland that would sell booze to underage kids. Every Friday & Saturday night that parking lot was filthy with kids trying to keep it cool while the one kid who could grow facial hair went in to try and buy. Aaah, good times.
Shot Callin' & Big Ballin' - Tha Whoridas
This joint hit the Bay like a shotgun blast. It just wouldn't stop. But, the best part of the phenomenon was the promo stickers. It was a gigantic sticker cut into 3 parts. The top was "Shot Callin'", the middle was Tha Whoridas, the bottom was "Big Ballin'". This wasn't even Tha Whoridas best record ("I Get Lifted" and "Taxin" are both way better) but it was the one that caught on.
I Didn't Mean To - Casual
Casual has always been my favorite dude out of the Hiero camp. He was the cat who could bridge the gap between the backpack, keep it real, etc. scene that Hiero got pigeon-holed in & the turf shit that's always popped in the Bay. For proof check his "Oaktown" feat. $horty The Pimp & the Double R - 808s, that slow flow, and two of Oakland's finest vets.
Keep It On The Real - 3X Krazy
Keak Da Sneak is the fucking man in the Bay. He can't stop killing it and cats won't stop fucking with him. And, personally, he seems to be on some other shit. On "Super Hyphie" he talks about pushing a Firebird to school in the 6th grade. And he probably was. He had hits with his partners in 3X Krazy, B.A. & Agerman, as far back as the mid-'90s. Also check "West Coast Shit," similar vibe and just as hot. (Thanks are due to Tim D for reminding me how dope that joint is.)
Bounce To This - RBL Posse
Not to be confused with the "Go In Brother" Mr. Cee, San Franciso and RBL's Mr. Cee was killed in the mid-90s before he and his partner, Black C, could fully capitalize on their deal with Atlantic Records (after their two BIG records on In-A-Minute) and the promise of success which is sold to every new-signee. This is from their second album and sounds SO DAMN GOOD played loud in a car on a warm day cruising up Mission Street in San Francisco.
Ghetto Theme - Mac Mall
Mac Mall has always been a favorite of mine. Dude just has so much talent. I remember running a Mac Mall set at a birthday party that my man Willie Maze was doing that he brought me in to help out with. (Anyone who knows him will know it was because he needed a ride to the gig and I just happened to have a car.) Of all the joints that I played, this one got the least reaction off the bat, but by the chorus all the girls in the spot were wide open. (Mall's "Wide Open" was incredibly hot at the time & got the best reaction.)
Brown Sugar - Extra Prolific
Of all the songs on this tape, this is the one that makes the least sense. It's not a classic. Very few people know it. It's by the least known guys of the Hiero crew, and the only one that's no longer around. But, for the same reason that I think Casual is so dope, I love this song. it's got a big sampled bassline and the drum sounds are all 808. Take the best of the NYC aesthetic and the best of the West Coast's and make an ode to riding around in a Chevelle hollering at girls... Peanut butter & chocolate.
Birds In The Kitchen - C-Bo
I was never a big C-Bo fan, but this joint came courtesy of Matthew Africa, whose taste can never ever be doubted. In spite of a great beat, a story of California living, and a classic E-40 assist on the chorus, I was still on the fence about including it. Dude's importance is debatable, he's from Sacramento in the very outer reaches of the Bay Area, if you're being generous, and you have to be up crazy up on mobb music to know any of his songs. What sold me was interviewing C-Bo. He's always sold heavy units in the midwest and I asked him why he thought that was the case. Within 10 minutes, he'd broken down the drug and music connection between the Bay & Kansas City (where Mac Dre was killed), and other midwest cities, and explained why the Crips and Bloods had gotten a foothold in California east of Highway 5, but not west of it. (In short, the legacy of the Black Panther Party had infused such a high degree of political consciousness that folks near Oakland, the epicenter of the BPP, weren't ever fucking with gangs.)
Hurricane - The Click
A sample of Zapp's "Computer Love" with a loop of someone singing "i'm so tore-oooh-ooh-ore" - what a beautiful ode to drunkness.
Sprinkle Me - E-40
I interviewed 40 recently & was shocked by a number of things. 1) He gave props to EVERYONE from the Bay. Dude didn't miss name-checking anyone. 2) In spite of the fact that it was mad early in the morning, he was very cool. No bullshit, no rushing thru the interview, just mad cool. 3) He was able to say without busting out laughing that his sister, Suga T, had found God and was about to release a gospel rap record. God bless him for always sticking by family.
Captain Save A Hoe - E-40
I can clearly remember when this joint finally hit me. I was standing on Grizzly Peaks Boulevard in the Berkeley Hills next to my girl-at-the-time's car & this was pumping out of the radio for the 10th time of the day. Something about the sunset, the incredible view, and "I wanna be saaaaaaved" stuck a chord. My favorite part will always be the outro. Captain Save-A-Hoe himself tells a girl how well he's going to treat her - "Baby, I'm here for you. I got you." Simping never sounded so good.
Dope Fiend Beat - Too $hort
From $hort's "In The Trunk", "everybody got addicted to my 'Dope Fiend Beat'". Yup. Also from the same song, "What's funky? I say pussy on an old hoe." Yup.
Freaky Tales - Too $hort
Everyone who was in the Bay Area in the mid-80s has this song in their DNA. It was inescapable. I remember hearing it pumping from the back seat of the AC Transit #57 bus, out of every car that drove by, and in every Walkman in school.
It's Goin' Down - Celly Cel
I had the pleasure of meeting Celly Cel and being the in-house engineer for Tone Capone, the cat who produced this joint and "I Got 5 On It", at a recording studio I worked at in Emeryville. Cel was the most laid-back rapper I'd ever met. He came in the room, offered pounds all around (even to the lowly, green behind the ears engineer), and melted into the couch. After about 15 minutes, I forgot he was even there. Tone was the first professional producer I'd ever seen work, and it was an eye opening experience. Dude would fly through sounds, drum patterns, synth lines, and, all of a sudden, booomm... there was a beat. Then he'd yell at me for not knowing what I was doing.
Santa Rita Weekend - The Coup feat. Spice 1 & E-40
One of E-40 joints I didn't include, but which is a great song, is "Practice Looking Hard." (The chorus is a sample from a Coup song in which Boots says, "I got a mirror in my pocket and I practice looking hard.") I read an interview years ago where Boots from The Coup was talking about how amazed he was to answer his phone one day and find Mr. Flamboyant on the other end asking if it was cool if he used the sample. I like to think that this collabo came out of that. The title is a reference to Santa Rita Jail, the Alameda County lockup, which houses over 4000 inmates.
All About My Fetti - Young Lay feat. Ray Luv & Mac Mall
My homie and Bay native Barry Cole was the coordinator for the New Jersey Drive soundtrack, which this was on. I think the inclusion of this alongside classics by Biz Mark and new joints by the Boot Camp Click and Ill & Al Skratch confused some folks, but they all have Barry to thank for it. "I'm all about my fetti. Moneeeeey, moooooooney."
Ice Cream Man - Dru Down feat. The Luniz
Another joint Matthew Africa put me up on. "It's the ice cream man, bitch, don't you hear the music?" Hella fresh.
I Got 5 On It (Bay Ballas Remix) - The Luniz feat. Dru Down, Richie Rich, E-40, Shock G & Spice 1
Anyone trying to get up on Bay hip hop MUST know, have, and love this song. An interesting factoid... If this gets played in a club in San Francisco, when the volume gets dropped out for the sing-along to Richie Rich's classic line, "where you from? Oakland, smoking", SF representators try to scream "San Francisco" louder than the people from Oakland screaming their city. They usually lose.
Freaks Of The Industry - Digital Underground
I met Fuze through my man DJ Namane. Fuze was his camp counselor. Hey, even big rap stars gotta work sometimes. There was a long standing rumor in the Bay that Fuze had a huge stash of the "Freaks of the Industry" promo-only, pressed on red vinyl 12"s in his basement. Well, Namane has now lived in Fuze's basement for 8 or 10 years now and he still hasn't found them.
Girl - Too $hort
Part of $hort Dog's genius is his ability to bounce between "conscious" cautionary tales about the perils of cocaine and gems about the invasion of Oakland by flat-booty bitches. That's a complex dude.
Life Is... - Too $hort
"$ir Too $hort coming straight from Oakland / California, home of the rock." Classic.
Sic Wit Tis - Mac Mall
Mall was mad young when he dropped this record, like 15 or 16, as the story goes. But, one listen makes it clear that dude is crazy steeped in the game. Plus, this KILLS in clubs.
Bluebird - RBL Posse
This shit destroys in San Francisco! Watch Mind Motion or Sake One run a classic SF set with this... It's a thing of beauty.
Say That - Latyrx
Lateef & Lyrics Born, shit, the whole Quannum camp, are on the left fringes of artists from the Bay that are known outside of the area. This song has always been dope to me because of the sing song-y style they're rocking. Plus, Lyrics Born has been rocking Member's Only jackets since WAAAAY before it was cool. Back when it was mad suspect.
Rapper's Ball - E-40 feat. Too $hort & K-Ci
Two lines matter: Too $hort "I guess the bitch made me rich." Yup. E-40 "I represent the Yay Area." Yup. Like none before or since.
Player's Holiday - TWDY
The first time I ever saw this record kill a crowd was at Geoffrey's Inner Circle, THE spot to be for the grown & sexy in Oakland. I've never seen so many big women get so loose.
I Get Around - 2Pac
This is probably the best song to come out of 'Pac's allegiance to Digital Underground. Pure Shock G production, quality pre-thug life mackalcious lyrics from 'Pac, and Money B saying "see, weekends was made for Michelob, but it's a Mon-day, my day". Plus, it's one of 5 or 6 songs on this that actually made the jump to classic in fickle and insular New York.
So International - B-Legit feat. Too $hort
"The places I go make me so international." Yet they only name check cities in the US. Wouldn't that make them so interstate-al?
Callin' Out - Lyrics Born feat. E-40 & Casual
I alluded to this earlier, but unlikely collabs are one of the hallmarks of the Bay. Quannum, Sick Wit It, and Hiero on one track? On paper, it sounds awful. Listening to it, it sounds great.
Taxin' - The Whoridas
One of the things that people from the rest of the world think about when talking about Bay Area hip hop is the infamous Hieroglyphics / Hobo Junction battle on the Wake Up Show. I remember huddled next to my radio playing with the tuner dial trying to keep the signal from slipping trying to catch every diss. Saafir always irritated me so he had a disadvantage on my scorecard. And there wasn't much depth to his crew. Except for these dudes. From "Shot Callin'" to this joint to "I Get Lifted" to "Keep It Going Remix" to "Dock of the Bay", dudes were on fire.
Game Recognize Game - JT Tha Bigga Figga
JT and the Get Low Players have always been the strongest crew out of San Francisco. And, this is by far his biggest hit. A couple years after moving to NYC, i got hired to DJ a party for Bay Area folks living in New York called "Hella Bay". I remember running this joint and the room exploding! First and only time I've run it east of the Rockies.
Sideways - E-40 feat. B-Legit
"When Christmas come around ask Santa Claus, 'Santa, do you know E Fortay?' Betchu that nigga say 'that's my homie.' We used to perve, grind, drink wine, Grand Marn, Kahlua, milk and brandy almost every day." Beautiful image.
Timin' - E-40, San Quinn, B-Legit & Richie Rich
This is a promo that 40 and crew did for KMEL, the big urban station in the Bay. Over the "Grindin'" beat, these vets destroy the beat & rep all the area codes. "You know them Yay boys be timin', with a big fat bank in my linin'." Plus, Richie Rich came back after being MIA for too long and flipped the Clipse again, "a legend in two games, weed plus coke".
Hyphy - Federation
The first time I went back to the Bay after this joint had come out and the Hyphy Movement had found a name I went by a spot in Jack London Square in Oakland called Mingles. (It's the club in Too $hort's "Blow The Whistle" video.) My man DJ Juice was spinning and the crowd went totally nuts for this song. He must've brought it back a dozen times. By the 8 or 10th time, my homeboy J and I got dragged on to the dancefloor by a birthday girl and her partner in grime. The dancefloor almost ground to a halt with everyone staring at us like, "who ARE these white boys?"
T-Shirts Blue Jeans & Nikes - Keak Da Sneak
This was the other joint that killed that night. And, it spawned the "skeee skirt" sound effect that only 40, on the guest verse, can ever get quite right.
Gasoline - E-40
Originally the b-side to "One Night Stand" from 2003's Breaking News, this joint is a prime example of why Rick Rock (the architect of the hyphy sound) is the dopest producer and 40 is the dopest MC out of the Bay. He talks about playing tennis, ghost riding the whip on the freeway, skeee skirt-ing, and making decisions only if they're "economically, umm, err, eee, aaa... feasible."
3 Freaks - DJ Shadow feat. Keak Da Sneak & Turf Talk
Never been a huge fan of Shadow's music but I have so much respect for him. It's obvious that homeboy just loves music. Some folks hated on this record because they said he was jumping on the hyphy bandwagon. I truly believe he got these dudes on the track cause he's feeling what they do. Listening to his mix CDs, you can hear everything from German prog-rock to 8Ball & MJG. Why would he not fuck with the dope dudes in his own backyard?
The Hard Way - San Quinn feat. E-40
My homie Sake One does a Thursday night party in San Francisco called Pacific Standard Time that attracts a who's who of Bay celebs, rappers, beautiful women, and everyone striking through town. Last time I was there, San Quinn was in the spot, Lyrics Born slid through, and M1 from dead prez did "Bigger Than Hip Hop". If you're ever in SF on a Thursday, stop thru, give Sake a pound, and slap Los on his gigantic forehead. (What up LOS!)
Feelin' Myself - Mac Dre
RIP Mac Dre. You are missed.
Super Sick Wit It - Mistah FAB feat. Turf Talk & E-40
FAB is one of the stars of the next generation of Bay dudes, along with Turf Talk & Keak Da Sneak. This is the full Thizz Entertainment & Sick Wit It collab. F.A.B. reps Thizz (Mac Dre's label) and the Yellow Bus Movement to the fullest. 40 IS Sick Wit It. Turf Talk is 40's cousin & the beat is by Droop-E. 40's 17 year old son.
Shake That Monkey - Too $hort
Borrowing from Lil Jon's formula of the time, this much more an Atlanta record than a Bay record. But, 1) it's dope; 2) it's $hort; and, 3) it makes people from all walks of life get crunk, go dumb, and cold get retarded.
Burn Rubber - Too $hort
$hort's about to release his 16th album at the end of August. SIXTEEN albums! That's phenomenal.
Super Hyphie - Keak Da Sneak
Some people beef about how Bay slang gets stolen/appropriated/"borrowed" and credit is never given. If anyone deserves that credit, it's Keak. What it do? Hyphy? Yadamean? For sheezy? All this dude.
Ride - E-A Ski
I interviewed Ski a couple years ago for a piece i was writing on Bay hip hop. Researching it, I tracked down most of his discography and was amazed how many records he'd done or been apart of. Plus, he was super fucking cool. While a 10+ year veteran of the music industry, he's also important for helping to bridge the gap in the production sound of the Bay from dudes like Ant Banks, Al Eaton, and Studio Tone to the current dudes, such as Rick Rock, Traxamillion, and Droop-E.
It's A Slumper - Turf Talk feat. E-40
Turf Talk came out so hard! Rookie of the year without question. Having 40 co-sign on him and provide some great verses didn't hurt at all.
Go Dumb - Federation
The production monster Rick Rock brought out Federation almost too early. They had a huge regional hit with "Hyphy" but "Go Dumb" didn't hit in the way it should of, and neither were national records. Rick's done a tremendous amount of work in his time, including some big joints for Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, and every MC of note from the Bay. I asked him one time how he stayed motivated and he said he was all about making music for young people. That right there is how he became the dude in the Bay.
Da Dummy - E-40 feat. Stressmatic
E-40 is without question the best MC from the Bay. He can out rap everyone else. He's got styles for days. He's done more guest verses in the last 5 years than most people have done real songs. And, he never sounds stale. His motto is simple and is the recipe for success: "Two H's. Stay Humble and Hungry."
Tell Me When To Go - E-40 feat. Keak Da Sneak
This song catapulted the Bay back into the mainstream's consciousness. It was unavoidable. A great chorus, Lil Jon killing the beat, a really good verse from Keak, and 40 doing what he does best. Then the video dropped. Stunna shades? Aaaah, right. Gigantic sunglasses. Going stupid & dumb. And, all the car tricks you'd see at a sideshow. The formula was perfect. But, I still wasn't sure it'd work. Would people get it? What sold me was seeing DJ Crooked bring it back time and time again at a 1200+ capacity club in Vegas and people going totally APESHIT. 40 truly is the Bay's ambassador.