Last weekend the Bay Area was filled to the brim with hip-hop. Then again, if your ear is to the street/internet, just about every weekend has the potential of being so. Last weekend, for whatever reason, I chose to partake in an eclectic celebration of our local scene, and have broken it down below.
- Friday: On Friday Oakland rap crew League510 could be spotted around The Town filming a music video for their new single, “Representa,” which can be found on our recent Bay Abridged mixtape. The highlight of the shoot seems to have been filming in row boats on Lake Merritt as a camera mounted to a remote control helicopter recorded them. If yall haven’t taken row boats out on the lake before, balance can be tough to coordinate, especially when rapping and trying to look cool.
- Friday Night: League510 ended up on Telegraph Ave in Oakland’s uptown district as night fell to support fellow emcee Do D.A.T. as he celebrated the release of his latest project, The Skinny (Bare Bones). After the Kurse Krew blessed the crowd, a small but enthusiastic crowd formed a circle around the lithe and wily Oakland emcee at Betti Ono. D.A.T. is a natural showman and a purveyor of hip-hop culture. The evening featured a guest appearance from Isis Genisis, a debut of a new music video, and a reunion of The Attik, the underground quartet D.A.T. first made waves with in the early 2000s. D.A.T., Sandman, Anansi and DJ Treat-U-Nice introduced me to good live hip-hop with their amazing La Peña shows when I was still in high school, so it’s always an honor to see them bless the stage.
- Saturday: As scorching temperatures descended on the Bay Area, I opted to lounge poolside with some good folks, good food, and a few glasses of Thug’s Passion. Saturday of course would have been Tupac Shakur’s 41st birthday, so it seemed only right to toast the local legend with the Alizé and champagne concoction he christened shortly before his death. I believe we toasted to a place in Thug’s Mansion, then again, who can remember for sure?
- Saturday Night: To continue the celebration of the late Tupac, I hit Yoshi’s in San Francisco for a Digital Underground show that Money B’s father organized in honor of Pac. It’s widely known that Pac got his start as a roadie, videographer and back-up dancer for DU, so it seemed appropriate for Shock G, Money B, and DJ Fuze to hold court on such an evening. Digital Underground can perhaps best be described as equal parts P-Funk, Public Enemy, and court jester, and to my surprise their live show included Fuze’s expert turntable work, Shock G’s self-taught keyboard playing, and support from a guitarist. To start the evening off, Black Panther Party for Self-Defense co-founder Bobby Seale addressed the crowd. Money B’s father was himself a Panther, as was much of Pac’s family, so it made sense. But then later in the evening legendary Bay Area pimp Fillmoe Slim was on stage. It seemed at once strange and appropriate for DU to count such conflicting characters as influences. After all, was Pac not cut from that same cloth? If nothing else, it felt like a very Bay Area evening.
- Sunday: I cleaned all day and listened to jazz. Sue me. Come to think of it, I also ran Lake Merritt listening to Rick Ross’s Rich Forever mixtape. Here’s the thing: It motivated me, but it’s not exactly jogging music. In other words, “MMG Untouchable” had be sprinting at a rather unsustainable gait. You’re running fast until your assed out. Next time I’m listening to Kenny G.
- Sunday Night: I had promised one of my students that I’d join him at The New Parish to see Black Hippie affiliate Ab-Soul, so despite my pending OG’dom I made it out to catch the show. The bill was comprised of some young LA kids yelling Swim Team, local artists RGLND and Shark Sinatra, and the headliner, Ab-Soul. The LA kids demonstrated that decent music can be supplemented by charisma, humor and candor to make a set more enjoyable. RGLND seems to get better each time I see him perform, and Shark Sinatra, though a talented artist, seemed scrambled and lacked confidence during his set. It was late, and my legs were aching by the time Carson native Ab-Soul hit the stage, but he made it worth it. Whereas much of his recorded material features a fairly even delivery, his live persona added animation and spirit. It didn’t hurt that the packed house seemed to know every word to many of his songs. That’s none too shabby for an underground artist from another city. The diehards left high and happy, and I left a fan.
This weekend was also captured via instagram pictures, which unfortunately are grainier once they’re all blown up. Who woulda thunk? Follow me at @coolhandlukas