Hip hop journalism has gained a new footing in the age of blogging, particularly as its largest magazine, The Source, struggles with internal turmoil. Under such circumstances, and during the age of payola and ever-shrinking radio playlists, blogs are now a reliable source to both read about and hear new songs before they are officially released -- or officially censored, as the awesome local hit "Fuck Yo Couch" by Bailey has been by KMEL.
Through blogs, knowledgeable, meticulous music collectors have found an outlet to share their riches with everyone, creating a community of hip hop historians that previously only developed within the four walls of a record store. And blogs have helped nurture the next generation of hip hop writers, who have seen their print options dwindle. San Francisco blogger "SergDun" was invited to style his "Beer and Rap" blog into a recurring column for Down, a new national magazine devoted to Southern hip hop ("He was so funny that I had to get him in our pages," says Down Publisher Jeremy Miller).
From all of this, Bay Area hip hop has benefited greatly. "Beer and Rap" is part of a growing list of blogs either based in the Bay Area -- that's "Yay Area" to hip-hoppers -- or boasting a deep love of our rap music. Here are some favorites:
"Beer and Rap"
SergDun waxes about national social issues, his favorite beer, and Yay Area music. He also throws down with friends from other parts of the country on the group blog "So Many Shrimp" (www.somanyshrimp.com).
"The Broke BBoys"
This international crew of bloggers hails from Gainesville, Fla., London, and the internationally recognized hip hop center of ... San Mateo? No matter, for the Broke BBoys have plenty of informational articles (loaded with audio clips) on artists around the country. Peninsula, represent!
"Cocaine Blunts and Hip Hop Tapes"
Having recently transplanted himself eastward, DJ Noz maintains "Cocaine Blunts and Hip Hop Tapes," which profiles Yay Area artists and labels, offering temporary downloads of super-rare songs. In recent months, he's served up cassette-only tracks from Oakland rapper Too $hort's early days and delved into the years when New Orleans rap mogul Master P ran his No Limit record label out here in Richmond.
Proprietress of the 10-year-old Vinyl Exchange (www.vinylexchange.com), a great gathering spot for record junkies, San Francisco-based DJ Stef uses her blog to focus mainly on upcoming local hip hop events and notices of interest to the community.
Launched in July, "Get Stoopid" has quickly become a place to grab brand-new local tracks hot out of the oven, including the Team's "It's Getting Hot," which features a comeback-hungry MC Hammer.
"Hip Hop Logic"
S.F.'s Clyde Smith offers new-release information, guest editorials, and reviews of anticipated albums from the national scene. He also runs "Pro Hip Hop" (www.prohiphop.com) for those who want to follow developments in national hip hop business news.
"Holla at a Scholar!!"
Bay Area author Adisa Banjoko (aka "The Bishop") offers his unique perspective on the culture, with exclusive excerpts of his interviews and speeches (check the amazing DJ Relm-helmed megamix of a recent Harvard presentation that Banjoko gave), as well as tips on improving one's chess game. His self-published book, 2004's Lyrical Swords: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix, explored the intersection of hip hop, martial arts. and Islam. Volume 2 (subtitled Westside Rebellion) focuses on our Golden State warriors and drops soon.
"The Pacific Standard"
Born in May, "The Pacific Standard" offers an invaluable mix of "official" song leaks, local event news, and spotlight features on Yay Area artists like Mac Mall and E-40.
The 707's "Strivin'" actually began as a mid-'90s Yay Area newsletter called No Joke. Publisher Doxx then joined up with local hip hop champion Billy Jam to create the magazine Strivin' in 1997. It folded after just two issues due to lack of advertising revenue, but is now reincarnated online with interviews from the vaults, some of which haven't seen the light of day until now.
"White T-Shirts and Corduroy House Shoes"
San Jose's Scape Martinez shares visual delights from his past, as a remarkable graffiti writer, and present, as a thoughtful participant in hip hop culture.
Straight outta Berkeley, author Jeff Chang (Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation) discusses issues of concern to hip hop activists and enthusiasts both local and international.