Bay Area Hip Hop: The Short History of Bay Area Rappers
The West Coast rap scene, and California’s Hip Hop scene in general, has always been focused on the city of Los Angeles’ culture, whether it has been in recent years or during the rise of the Gangster Rap of the early 1990s.
But Bay Area Hip Hop has developed its own culture overtime within cities of Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo, Richmond, as well Hayward with Spice One, 187 Fac, and the current success of Saweetie or Pittsburg with the careers of The Jacka, 2 of the Crew, and Mob Figaz, or E.Z.S.D out of Fairfield and Totally Insane from East Palo Alto.
Bay Area Rappers: Oakland
While originally being from Los Angeles, Too Short relocated during his teen years and soon was introduced into the lifestyle of Oakland, which would lead him into beginning his career with releasing numerous of solo tapes throughout the 1980s.
While Too Short might be one of the most known and went on to have a very successful career within the rap game, which accounts for a span from the 1980s to the 2010s, there are others who begun around the same time.
A legend producer who also worked with No Limit is DJ Daryl from West Oakland. One movement he help facilitate, along with California legend Richie Rich, was the 415 group who represented the culture of Oakland, especially with their hit song “Side Show”, which painted a perfect picture of the streets of Oakland during those days.
An artist that definitely deserves respect for his accomplishments is MC Hammer, who sold millions of records. While most will not identify him as a true Hip Hop act who made true Bay Area and Oakland music, he still accomplished a lot by being bred from The Town of Oakland.
What may lead to a debate as if they are actually from Oakland, Digital Underground is similar to MC Hammer as their music may have not represented the city of Oakland as some may wanted. But with the career of Digital Underground, their success help introduced 2Pac to the West Coast scene.
By the mid-1990s, the Oakland rap scene was making a name for itself with the help of Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It”, a group featuring Yukmouth and Numskull, or the career of Dru Down starting to take off, as well a few No Limit records act of Steady Mobbin’ and E-A-Ski.
One of the most important artists who were actually from The Town, or Oakland, is Keak Da Sneak. One of the pioneers of the Hyphy Movement, which gained national attention during the mid 2000s, help start one of the biggest West Coast movements.
Beginning with Dual Committee, and also with 3X Krazy, Keak Da Sneak would launch a successful solo West Coast career but would not necessarily reach the national level, at least until the light was shed on Oakland’s Hyphy Movement of the 2000s.
Bay Area Rappers: Vallejo
From Mac Dre to E-40, this small northern California city produced some of the most important rap figures to ever be part of Hip Hop.
The legend Mac Dre is often considered the king of Bay Area’s Hip Hop. While identifying with the entire Bay Area, and not just Vallejo, Mac Dre would release and be part of dozens of projects helping to solidify his career as a true Bay Area legend.
The true icon of the Hyphy movement did not only become somewhat a God of Bay Area’s Hip Hop scene but would also help establish the careers of other with Thizz Nation / Thizz Entertainment like Mistah FAB, J Diggs, Dubee aka SugaWolf, and others.
Somewhat of a rival of Mac Dre, at least during their early days within music industry, E-40 is probably the biggest artist to ever come from northern California.
Hailing from around Magazine Street in South Vallejo, E-40 would release dozens of projects, continuing today, and have numerous of hit singles, while being very respected in the rap game for his longevity and accomplishments.
Other Vallejo and Bay Area rap artists like Celly Cel, B-Legit, The Click, Little Bruce, Funk Mobb, The Mossie, Dubee, or J Diggs, all have ties to either E-40 and Sick Wit It Records or Mac Dre and his Thizz Nation movement.
Bay Area Rappers: Richmond
The city of the Bay that has the light shed on it the least as numerous of pioneers, outside of the likes of Master P who begun his career in the small Bay Area city.
Despite not originally being from Richmond, Master P is probably the biggest artists to at least shout out Richmond, at least during the early days of No Limit, but it should be noted that he is not close to being a true pioneer or even viewed in the Bay as a true Richmond rap artists.
To begin, the city of Richmond had some of the Bay Area’s first successful local Hip Hop artists with the careers of Magic Mike and Calvin T, as well as Filthy Phil who were out back in the 1980s and the very early 1990s.
Bay Area Hip Hop artists like Cool-E, Lil Ric, C.I.N, Mafiosos, or the New Breed of Gangstaz help continue the movement of Richmond, especially during the mid-1990s, as some will say that the true street reality type of rap in the Bay begun in Richmond.
Bay Area Rappers: San Francisco
Opposite of Oakland is the City, the city of San Francisco across the water from the East Bay. From Fillmore to Lakeview to Hunters Point, San Fran’s neighborhoods produced many Bay Area and California legends.
By the early 1990s, the likes of RBL Posse, Ill Mannered with Cougnut, Rappin’ 4 Tay, San Quinn, Cellski, Andre Nickatina, Messy Marv, Mr. Sandman, Guce, 11/5, 2-11, Ghetto Soldiers began to put the City of Frisco on the map.
Some might disagree, but San Francisco had the most notable Bay Area rap scene by producing many artists that gained national attention and notoriety, as well respect for their craft.
Currently, all Bay Area cities have a new emerging music scene that is slowly taken over and being popularized around the country with Berner, Philthy Rich, Cookie Money, Iamsu, ROB x SBE and others helping to establish the new era of the Bay Area market.