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Hyphy Hitz: dumb and dumber

Wednesday, Jan 3 2007
Hyphy Hitz purports to contain the essential songs of the Bay Area's contemporary strain of hip hop. Only just released, it is already one of the best hyphy compilations on the market, a clear snapshot of the largely synth-driven, high-energy sound. It's also a good source of such associated terminology as "I do the dummy retarded and ride the yellow bus," as Mistah F.A.B. proclaims on "Super Sic Wit It," a song that also features Turf Talk and E-40. Keak Da Sneak appears with "Super Hyphy," remaining unchallenged in his claim to have invented the word. Mac Dre expounds on the proper way to "Get Stupid," while Atlanta's Da Muzicianz tribute the Bay Area with Fairfield group Federation on "Go Dumb," showing why hyphy is the kissing cousin to crunk.

One joint missing from a true hyphy hits collection is "Tell Me When to Go" by E-40 featuring Keak Da Sneak, the only actual hit that hyphy has had in pop music terms. But the host label TVT Records found a smart solution that minimizes its absence: Shake Da Mayor's "Stunner Shades" samples a memorable part of "Tell Me When to Go" for the hook to a song that got a sliver of radio time.

The addition of Mac Dre's "Thizzle Dance" and Federation's "Hyphy," two of the most important tunes in solidifying the term and the culture locally, would have made this tight selection feel more complete. Same goes for Too Short cuts like "Burn Rubber" and "Blow the Whistle," as these relatively recent songs from the Oakland O.G. have had clear influence on the hyphy movement. But that's all just being nitpicky; the cost of putting together a compilation with all the big hitters might have prevented Hyphy Hitz from ever seeing release. And that would really be dumb.

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Tamara Palmer


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