By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
The Berkeley hip-hop foursome is probably best known because the video for its viral hit, "Vans" — which seems to sample a vibrating cell phone — was censored by MTV. (The highly principled network doesn't tolerate product placement, don't you know.) Needless to say, hella publicity followed; the group toured the country this fall ahead of its Jive Records debut, Based Boys, slated for release on October 30. The group mixes the local hyphy sound with a bit of down-South snap style, and proudly displays its influences, ranging from Run-D.M.C. to Too $hort — the East Bay godfather who helped the Pack get its deal.
Zeph & Azeem
J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Alex 'Zanders' Andreas — Boom Boom Room
Kevin Arnold — Noise Pop
Monika Bernstein, William Linn — Blasthaus
Will Bronson — SMC Recordings
Christian Cunningham, Ben Van Houten — The Bay Bridged
Marshall Lamm — Marshall Lamm Promotions & Public Relations
Jennifer Maerz — Music Editor, SF Weekly
Audra Morse — Incredibly Strange Wrestling, Thee Parkside
Ryan Romana — Six Degrees Records
Katy St. Clair — Bouncer columnist, SF Weekly
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SF Weekly 2007 Music Awards Staff
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West Coast Vaccine, the second album by E-40's cousin Turf Talk, confirmed Turf's status as the future of hyphy. He's the exciting, innovative lyricist the movement needs to take its scrapers-and-stunna-shades shtick to the next level. Okay, Turf's topics may seem like typical Cali thug-hop fare, but that's so not the point. Sure, he's got gats, cash, and hos, but he's also got flows for days, yadidahmean? Turf's wide-ranging tonal acrobatics are unparalleled by his street-level MC peers; his ability to shift his delivery and cadences from low whispers to high-pitched drawls makes what he says far less of a focus than the way he says things.
Comprising rappers Goldie Gold, Stresmatic, and Doonie Baby, Fairfield's favorite sons the Federation have been credited with being the inventors of the hyphy sound — thanks in no small part to producer Rick Rock, the "king of slaps." Rock took the Bay Area's venerable "mobb music" template, injected it with steroids, enhanced its flavorfulness, added more widespread appeal, and unleashed it on the world. On their just-released second album, It's Whateva, the Feds take hyphy's infectious energy into the realms of metal, crunk, techno, and gospel and still come out shinier than the grill on a just-polished Cadillac.
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A Santa Cruz native who cut his teeth in reggae bands, Migs has spent the past decade at the forefront of deep house music with his sassy blend of funk, soul, and dub textures and wholly seductive beats. He made a name for himself in the late '90s with a batch of acclaimed releases on Naked Music; his songs were heard on Sex in the City and Six Feet Under, and he's remixed tracks for the likes of Britney Spears and Macy Gray. Migs' latest dancefloor opus, Those Things, was released this year on his own Salted Music.
Prolific, tech-savvy multi-instrumentalist Willits has almost too many new projects to mention, but highlights include Listening Garden (a series of sound fragments recorded at an arts center in Japan), Plants and Hearts (a "pure droning guitar piece," in Willits' own words) and Ocean Fire (a guitar and piano ode to the sea recorded with Ryuichi Sakamoto). They come on the heels of last year's Surf Boundaries, which was recorded with ex-girlfriend Latrice Barnett and focused on the disintegration of a relationship. Though Willits is primarily known for his technical innovation and ambient, otherworldly sound, his compositions satisfy because they feel personal and emotionally affected.
With two drummers and a fierce rhythmic devotion, it comes as no surprise that Tussle's main objective is "to make a motherfucker dance." Indeed, on the group's latest album, Telescope Mind, Tussle collaborated with original New York No-Wave group Liquid Liquid, and also featured a 10-minute Hot Chip remix of their song "Warning." The quartet is weird and wonderful live, as recent shows at the Bicycle Film Festival and Bottom of the Hill will attest — its set is full of slinky basslines, throbbing synths, and endless percussion. A little polyrhythmic stew, anyone?
Omnipresent party band Eats Tapes gets MIDIval on our asses, conducting an evil orchestra of vintage synths, rusty sequencers, a hacked Nintendo, and some jerry-rigged analogue thingies in order to inspire goofy, sweat-drenched meltdowns. The lady-and-gent duo released the full-length Dos Mutantes on Tigerbeat6 earlier this year to wide acclaim from dance music's fringes; the band draws inspiration and fans equally from electronica, punk, noise, and rock. Their podcasts on www.eatstapes.com reliably provide brain-twisting bangers and weirdo sound collages, while their live show is an insanely hi-NRG parade of radioactive jams. To paraphrase Orwell, it's like a robotic glam boot, stomping on a happy human face — forever.
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Sila and the AfroFunk Experience
After seeing Senegalese artist Baaba Maal perform in his native tongue at the Fillmore a few years a go, Kenyan-born vocalist Victor Sila was inspired to hang up his previous musical guise as a R&B pop singer and pursue the worldly rhythms of his current group, Sila and the AfroFunk Experience. Mixing the legendary sounds of Fela Kuti with some tricks gleaned from James Brown and P-Funk, Sila (who sings in Swahili and English) and company create a dancefloor-ready throb guaranteed to move you.
When it comes to Cheb i Sabbah, the titan of transglobal, outernational sound, Algeria's loss is San Francisco's gain. The native North African DJ has been blending East and West (and north and south) since his early days spinning American soul records in Paris in the '60s. A S.F. resident since '86, he pioneered the world music scene via the now-defunct 1002 Nights parties and his ongoing Tuesday night club at Nickie's. Sabbah has earned a dedicated following by weaving Indian, African, and Arabian sounds with jazz, poetry, and anything else that might enhance his trancey dancefloor groove.