There's practically an entire genre of music video that revolves around two basic elements: San Francisco at night, and black-and-white imagery. The latest quality contribution comes from fast-rising Bay Area rapper IamSu!, who finds Union Square, the Stockton Tunnel, and the general vibe of the nighttime city in monochrome a perfect setting for this moody cut off his $uzy 6 $peed mixtape. "Losin' Ft. CJ" finds the rapper in introspective mode, rhapsodizing about the sacrifices he's made to rise in the rap game. That sweet vocal hook and swirling background sample -- basically the whole backing track -- comes from Rochelle Jordan's song of the same name. But IamSu! and CJ definitely add some lyrical edge to Jordan's smooth nightscape. Check it out:
In a new interview with the UK Guardian, Snoop Dogg dishes on a huge range of subjects: his metamorphosis into Snoop Lion, how many joints he smokes per day, and whether he'd ever consider going into politics. (Also, how to be a pimp and a married man at the same time.)
He even explains his thoughts on homosexuality in rap -- and why he doesn't think it will ever be accepted. Despite this skepticism, though, Snoop seems to understand the struggle for gay rights as basically analogous to the struggle for civil rights. From the story:
Behold, Antwon. The San Jose rapper's End of Earth mixtape made our list of the best local rap releases of 2012, and his latest tape, last week's In Dark Denim, is even better. (Grab it here.) The highlight and first video is "3rd World Grrl," a gritty party-funk beat that features Antwon getting explicit about his sexual pursuits. That would be a fairly accurate description of all of In Dark Denim, but (as SPIN's Brandon Soderberg has noted), Antwon's sex raps stand apart: They come off less as annoying braggadocio and more as desperate liberation. There's a pleasure to lines like "We fuckin' in the morning like who cares who we waking," sure, but it comes in lieu of the darker moments that surround "3rd World Grrl" on In Dark Denim. Suitably, then, this song has an all-fun video, where a puppet Antwon gets his silly-ass mack on in the club. Watch it, grab In Dark Denim, and let's all wait excitedly to see where Antwon goes next.
It's been another big year in Bay Area hip-hop, with one huge collaboration album from two local greats and lots of strong releases from young local upstarts. So before the world ends, let's round up the 10 best Bay Area hip-hop/rap records (including albums, mixtapes, etc.) of 2012.
Bossalinis & Fooliyones
Cloud-rap chit-chat aside, with their full-length studio debut Mondre M.A.N. and Squadda B simply conjured up a breezy and funky set of rap songs. With beats handled by a whopping array of producers (including Zaytoven and Harry Fraud), the duo's slurry, freestyled flows seep into the tracks and gel just beautifully. And with "Do It For The Bay," featuring Fillmore's finest DaVinci, Main Attrakionz can claim a modern hometown anthem. -- Phillip Mlynar
Illmatic is fine. A hardass young upstart rapper plays an old pro over dusty, eerie (read: "cinematic") beats with samples that never fully conjoin and keeps it all under 40 minutes. It's an ideal debut. What it's not is a finishing point. It's in fact so idealized that it's not absurd to suggest rappers liked it so much because it provided an easy-to-imitate template of cool. It would be much harder to imitate the Memento-biting "Rewind" or the Maltese Falcon-inspired "Who Killed It?" Forget cinematic, those would require acting lessons. Ahead of Nas' show tonight at the Fox Oakland, here are five Nas albums that are at least as good as, if not better than, his debut.
IamSu! is ending the year as one of the brightest new rap talents on the West Coast. Having seen his profile soar off the back of a starring turn on E-40's "Function" earlier this year, the Richmond-raised rapper dropped the $uzy 6 $peed mixtape last week to wide acclaim. Now he'll be keeping the buzz going with an instore appearance at Upper Haight streetwear shop True this Sunday. (Nov. 18, 3 p.m.) Ahead of that, we got him to drop the details behind his five favorite tracks from $uzy 6 $peed.
5. "100 Grand" feat. Juvenile
This collaboration came about when Juvenile came to town to perform. He was up in the studio after I was in a studio session and had a chance to kick it with him. He had heard a couple of my songs, so everything just fell into place. I was surprised he'd heard of me, 'cause I look up to Juvenile and have been listening to him since elementary school. When I first heard The Hot Boys, I remember thinking Juve was dope and had a unique style. Just having him sitting in the back for the song was a learning experience. I wasn't nervous though, 'cause I know what I can do.
What happens when you decide to shoot an entire rap video inside a moving tour van filled with people and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire? This fun new clip for "Speaker," by local MC A-1 and featuring Roach Gigz, will give you some idea: Lots of bouncing, sleeping, masked men passing bottles, and, for the viewer, some rather stomach-churning camera movement.
But screw the nausea, because "Speaker" is worth it just for A-1's syrupy flow and Roach Gigz's irrepressible silliness. (Note the part where lip-synching breaks down.) And director WooStaar's on-screen verbiage and busted-VHS aesthetic give this tour van vid a fresh look. Next time you see a big van full of rappers passing you on the freeway, just hope they're having this much fun:
Days after San Francisco's own DaVinci dropped a brand-new album for free -- the dense and delightful The MOEna Lisa -- here's a new video for the bumpin' track "In My City," which might be the best bit of Sucka Free City eye-candy we've seen all year. Shot in gorgeous black and white, the Tim Jieh-directed video has this Fillmore rapper reppin' his home hood along with other lovely S.F. locales like North Beach and Twin Peaks. He even ventures out of town to Oakland and Vallejo, grabbing cameos from the likes of Main Attrakionz and others along the way.
Regular readers will doubtless know DaVinci, the under-appreciated Fillmore District rapper whose work has long stood out among the eager crop of local MCs. Over two records so far -- 2010's The Day The Turf Stood Still and last year's Feast or Famine -- DaVinci painted a portrait of his changing 'hood while proving himself one of the most vivid and versatile rappers in the Bay. Today he's back with new album The MOEna Lisa, the final chapter in a trilogy of sorts -- and he's posted it for free download on the usual platforms.
Back when he was in high school, New Orleans rapper Dee-1 was working at a local Circuit City store when Lil Wayne came in and ordered a TV. Dee ended up installing the goggle-box into Weezy's car. These days, Dee himself works closely with Mannie Fresh, the architect of the classic Cash Money sound; the producer hosts Dee's new project The Focus Tape, which also features collaborations with Juvenile, Killer Mike, and Mos Def. Ahead of Dee-1's show at the Fillmore this Sunday (Oct. 21), here's his take on how to package socially-conscious music to the streets, playing basketball with Master P, and Turk and B.G.'s unlikely Walmart purchase.