2010 has been a pretty good year for Bay Area hip-hop, if only because it saw the next generation of local rappers come into its own, eager (and maybe even ready) to put the
Bay back on the national radar once again. Even after the death of hyphy,
rappers here just continue to get weirder and weirder, falling in love
with abstract, synthesized beats as they rhyme about weed, outer space, and Paris Hilton. Not that that's
not a bad thing.
One of 2010's newcomers, Vallejo's Moe Green kicks things off by sampling
dubstep producer Skream's remix of La Roux's "In For The Kill." This is the
new Bay, where emcees and producers are influenced as much by the Internet
as they are by the local legends they grew up around. From there, the
album only gets better as Green's smooth, boastful rhymes skate over a
variety of sonic styles; drum-heavy slaps, jazzy, Madlib-esque beats, and a
touch of East Coast boom-bap. You can tell Moe Green hasn't fully come into
his own quite yet, but Rocky Maivia shows that the future is bright for this
MP3: Moe Green -- "Search Party"
than Erk Tha Jerk. That doesn't mean he's preachy or corny though. On Nerd's Eye View, Erk just talks about what he knows, and in this case, it largely centers around his uncertainty over what the future holds. Erk has a gravelly voice and bouncy flow that takes a couple of songs to get used to, but once you do, it's hard not to love the ravey synths, big hooks, and confessionals found on songs like this year's minor hit, "Right Here."
Download: Erk Tha Jerk: Nerd's Eye View -- The Prelude
than Erk Tha Jerk. That doesn't mean he's preachy or corny though. On Nerd's
Eye View, Erk just talks about what he knows, and in this case, it largely
centers around his uncertainty over what the future holds. Erk has a
gravelly voice and bouncy flow that takes a couple of songs to get used to,
but once you do, it's hard not to love the ravey synths, big hooks, and
confessionals found on songs like this year's minor hit, "Right Here."
J. Stalinis still flying under the radar outside the Bay, but around here,
his loose lyrical style and ear for lush, sparkling beats has brought him a
lot of buzz. On Prenuptial Agreement, J Stalin isn't doing anything new
necessarily, but it all sounds so good that he doesn't really need to. "Get
Me Off," an R&B-tinged track featuring E-40 and E-Da Sanga, sounds like
something straight out the Bay Area circa 1995. He even ventures into the
sultry side of '80s boogie funk on "When It's Real," pulling the same "Ooh
La La La" sample made famous by the Fugees on "Fu-Gee-La." I'm not
opted to release No. 12 along with it, and turned to his son Droop-E to lace him
with a wild set of futuristic slaps. Standout tracks include the dreamy
"Spend The Night," which is comprised entirely of Bjork samples. And even if
the Revenue Retrievin' project buckles a bit under the weight of its double-disc load, E-40's
flow sounds rejuvenated.
had a few tricks up his sleeve with the release of Sleepy Deprivation this
year. Sleepy's hyperactive flow is perfectly suited for the array of
supercharged beats, which seem to simultaneously head in every direction on the sonic spectrum. "Blap," produced by Young L and featuring D-Lo, is the
high point of this album, featuring a trippy beat that could only have come out of
Gravity. Produced entirely by Droop-E, Fik managed to pull label boss E-40,
Clyde Carson, Stevie J, Stressmatic, Murs, Yukmouth, Beeda Weeda, and Turf
Talk for this album, which is about as synthed-out and spacey as one can get
without venturing into the realm of psychedelia. Fik is no slouch on the
mic either, showing he can handle an uptempo track or a slow head-nodder
with equal skill. Album closer "My Own Opponent," which also features Murs
and Droop-E, perfectly sums up Fik's futuristic, braggadocio style.
4. Young L - L-E-N: The Mixtape
Young L also proved his worth, unleashing a flurry of some of the most unique-sounding beats to come out of the Bay in years.
Somehow minimal and bombastic at the same time, Young L's beats sound like
they come out of the coldest, loneliest, angriest corner of the
universe, pulling as much from techno, grime, and dubstep as they do from hip-hop. Some of his best production work in 2010 ended up on L-E-N,
even if the rhymes weren't quite up to the same level.
3. DaVinci - The Day the Turf Stood Still (Sweetbreads Creative Collective)
approach. But Fillmore rapper DaVinci did just that, without sacrificing any
of his Bay Area flavor. The Day The Turf Stood Still is an album full of
street tales that neither glorify, nor condemn, the goings-on in this city. It's
merely a man describing what's going on around him. Shit, he even
manages to touch on the gentrification of S.F. on "What You Finna Do."
into this project that it's essentially an album. Over the course of an
hour, the lyrically nimble Roach Gigz makes it very clear he loves drugs,
women, and hip-hop (not necessarily in that order), as he drops punchlines
that most battle rappers would die to create themselves. To match his
likable personality on the mic, Gigz is blessed with head-nodding
beats that slump, slap, and knock their way through your speakers, finding
a happy medium between the S.F. and Oakland sounds. Look no further than
"Medicine," "Wasting Time," or "Respect It" for appropriate examples.
1. Lil B - N/A
this year that was as focused or coherent at last year's 6 Kiss (instead he
released hundreds of hastily-composed tracks spread out across multiple
mixtapes). But over the course of 12 months, the Based God has turned
himself into a bonafide Internet/hip-hop folk hero, seemingly starting a new meme every day, conspiring with Soulja Boy, selling out venues in
NYC and Chicago, and snagging himself multiple cover stories. Yes, he has
his spoken-word album, Rain In England, performed entirely over
self-produced, ambient beats, but that's a different beast entirely. The
sheer volume of his output is enough to make your head spin, but buried in
those tracks are enough songs to make you understand how Lil B got as far as he did this year.