When people outside of the West coast think of rap, I guarantee that they think immediately of Southern Cali artists such as N.W.A, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, etc. But what about the bay? Although very specific to the region, the Bay area has such an interesting
music scene. With less than 6% of the black community left in San Francisco, it has altered the music scene to be a call for social justice. From an outsider looking in, it seems like the music is just fun party songs. However, it has become more a staple to the resistance to the rapid gentrification.
One aspect of the bay area scene is that they try to bring positivity into a bad situation. Gentrification in the bay has gotten so bad to the point where black communities are becoming almost non existent. Police brutality is at an ultimate high to push PoC out. One thing that has brought the community together is through rap. You got rappers like Mac Dre back in the 90s. He was a pioneer of this type of rap after being released from prison. He decided to throw parties with music that he was making. These parties became bigger and bigger until they were just full-scale concerts. He started influencing other rappers in the area with his style now known as “hyphy” music.
“When hip hops true influence as a cultural movement is finally understood..people will recognize that the very same synergy at the heart of hip hop’s commercial success has also informed our generation’s activist and political theorist”
-Baraka Kitwana on Bay Area Hyphy Music
Since then it’s grown to be one of the most influential types of music in modern day hip hop (look at Drake incorporating some of that into his style). It is now what brings together a dying community. I was watching a documentary called Noisey about the Bay Area hip hop scene, and one thing I noticed is how close the black community is. Rapper Nef the Pharoah was talking about how there’s always some sort of violence in the city (right before 3 people from his crew and a bystander get searched for no valid reason and arrested). It shows how this community is marginalized, and serves as an indication for why they need music as an outlet for free expression when they are constantly oppressed.
Although Bay Area rap has a popular sound, there’s not that many famous rappers from here. I don’t see this as a bad thing. It’s something that remains solely in the heart of the bay. It sets the natives away from the gentrified “transplants” of the city. When a song like Feelin Myself comes on at the club, and only a few people in a sea of at least 70 actually get excited that such a classic is playing, then you know the authenticity of the city hasn’t completely gone extinct. Who’s knows, maybe the original Bay Area will come back one day.
“I just think we need more creativity, cause what it is, is like a lot of times when you’re from a soil that the recognition is not really recognized by the masses, they try to fly right over us. Like: ‘Oh, they’re from the Bay. We know they’ve got talent. But we’re scooting over there and we’re flying to LA or whatever else we’re going to go.’ ” –E-40 on the future of the Bay Area music scene