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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Moment of Truth: Hieroglyphics' Casual Pens Book on Actual Hieroglyphics

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 10:43 AM

Shortly after co-founding Oakland’s legendary Hieroglyphics crew in 1997, Casual helped cement the crew’s role in Bay Area hip-hop history, dropping classic bars on 3rd Eye Vision like:

MC's is like chemicals, watch me dissolve em
Petty individuals infestin hip-hop
I leave em all over the floor like cigar intestines
You better count your blessings, it amounts to less
Than zero, the Hiero hero
Hieroglyphic sequence hittin with rhymes that are regal
And we know…

Nearly 20 years later, Hieroglyphics are still a household name in the Bay, but what keeps the classic hip-hop crew relevant is individual members establishing themselves as a prolific force both within and outside of hip-hop. Casual has been featured on everything from Wu-Tang cuts, to Handsome Boy Modelling School joints, and now he’s taking the crew’s name to the next level by publishing a book on the study of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Anthony Dragons Discusses His Show With Curren$y and Forthcoming Mixtape

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 9:45 AM


Though Anthony Dragons is a pretty accomplished local rapper, he's had a hard time settling on a name for himself — which is why you may not have heard of him despite the fact he has opened for Kendrick Lamar, Wale, and Talib Kweli when they've played in the Bay Area. His previous names, RGLND and Anthony Almxghty, never felt quite right, but Anthony Dragons is something he wants to stick with longterm. The surname references his Chinese zodiac sign and has all the qualities he wants to embody in his rhymes — swift and stealthy with a formidable presence.

Dragons currently has mixtape in the works and, though he hasn't shared much about it, it promises to be as eclectic as his past work. He has a penchant for mid-tempo, jazz and funk-influenced production, yet he's also no stranger to party music. One of his early mixtapes, 6olden, is full of hyphy beats and even has a verse from Too $hort. Yet, in his lastest effort, Ode English, his lyrics evolved into something more experimental and complex, packing in lots of surrealist metaphors and left-field analogies. A clever storyteller, he uses his music to process difficult experiences from his East Oakland childhood.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Queens D.Light: The Powerful Rapper

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 9:47 AM

Effects sputter, a saxophone sample hovers into the atmosphere, and a smooth bass rolls into a jazzy drum loop as Queens D. Light announces her arrival: “I’m everything special, future now retro.” The simple opening flow, encapsulates so much of who the Oakland MC is: a contemporary rapper with nods to boom-bap production like this, reminiscent of the hip-hop golden era sound of the early ’90s, as her signature canvas.

At one lyrical corner, she’s fierce, confident, and definitive with lines like “If I said it, then I meant it/ even if it shifted/ I keep it funky and relentless/ young black and gifted.” At another turn, she professes her reverence for the goddess of her Yoruba faith: “Guess, who I be, the daughter of Oshun, the first to birth outta the earth, stars and moon.” All the while, never losing sight of building an aura of consciousness with a barrage of rhymes and drawn out hooks that stick.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Live Review: Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt Don't Give a Fuck

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 10:08 AM

Action Bronson
Earl Sweatshirt
Remy Banks
DJ Alchemist
Meyhem Lauren
The Warfield
April 7th, 2015

Better Than: Spending all day sulking about losing The Bold Italic (I did and it sucked so BACK OFF!) [read in the style of Adam Sandler’s graduation speech in Billy Madison]

  • All photos by Adrian Spinelli
Chaos struck the floor level of The Warfield during rapper Earl Sweatshirt's opening set on Tuesday night. Mosh pits broke out as members of Sweatshirt’s Odd Future crew entourage danced furiously on stage before plunging into the crowd in what might go down as some of the greatest all-out stage dives of all time. I’m talking Woodstock-level stage dives here; shirts off, bodies fully extended and perfect catches from the crowd to complete the dives. It was beautiful.

The Odd Future crew’s antics contrasted sharply with an otherwise drab stage setup. Earl worked the crowd in front of a black backdrop and the proverbial Costco fold-up table with a black sheet strewn over it to support the DJ setup. Where was the inflatable Earl Sweatshirt head from his previous tour? Surely Queens rapper Action Bronson would have something more elaborate planned than this?

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Moment of Truth: To Pimp A Butterfly Gets Inside Kendrick Lamar's Conscience

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 3:38 PM

  • Hamed Hazel

Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City (GKMC) changed the course of my life. Straight up. I wouldn’t be writing these words had I not delved into the lyrics and stories on that album. I fell in love with hip-hop again through GKMC. It gave me hope for a genre that I was about to give up on, and I went down the roads it took me on.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Watch: IamSu! Goes Union Square Noir in "Losin' Ft. CJ"

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 11:40 AM


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:

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Snoop Dogg Doubts Gays Will Ever Be Accepted in Rap

Posted By on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Reggae? Sure. Gays? Nope.
  • Reggae? Sure. Gays? Nope.

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:

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Watch: Antwon's "3rd World Grrl" Is the Bay Area Party-Rap Song of the Year So Far

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 12:40 PM

  • Antwon

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.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

The 10 Best Bay Area Hip-Hop Records of 2012

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 3:00 AM

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.


Main Attrakionz

Bossalinis & Fooliyones

[Young One]

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

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Five Nas Albums Better Than Illmatic

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 8:28 AM

  • Britt Chester

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.

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"