The Legacy of Bay Area Hip-Hop History & Culture, by Dregs One - presented at Rock The School Bells 5, Skyline College, San Bruno 3/24/12

What up y’all. I had a blast presenting this workshop to youth at Rock The School Bells last Saturday and had the idea to share the outline. Being born and raised in San Francisco and a student, fan, and participant in the Bay’s hip-hop scene it was really important for me to do this workshop because I feel like we are slowly losing touch with our culture and I want to see it preserved! It’s a long read and lacks my commentary and the visuals, but I hope you still get something out of it. Peace.

  • Introduction of presenter
    • History as an artist/youth worker
    • Wanted to teach workshop to preserve Bay Area hip-hop culture
    • Qualified to teach the workshop from being a fan, growing up listening to Bay music, writing graffiti & inspired by the legends, learned most of the material from years of listening, barely any research was required

  • Workshop overview, topics to be covered
    • The overall history of the Bay Area hip-hop culture: graffiti, dance, DJing, MCing
    • What makes the Bay unique
    • Bay Area pioneers
    • Worldwide influence of Bay Area culture

  • The Bay Area before hip-hop
    • Always been an important area because of the Bay, access to Pacific Ocean, beautiful land, weather
    • Diverse population, melting pot of cultures
      • Native Americans were colonized by Spain, which eventually became Mexico. California was taken by the US but still maintains heavy Spanish influence
      • 1849 Gold Rush brought many people to San Francisco Bay Area
      • Heavy immigration from China & Japan in the 19th century, they faced extreme discrimination & performed hard labor
      • Black population came from the South in mid-20th century, better living conditions and more work opportunities (such as Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard, Oakland Port, etc.)
      • Bay Area has the 2nd biggest Filipino population outside of the Philippines
      • Consistent Latino immigration, close proximity to Mexico, Central & South America
    • Musical movements
      • Huge jazz boom, SF’s Fillmore district is known as the “Harlem of the West”
      • Summer of Love in the 1960s births hippie counterculture and huge Bay Area rock movement. Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin hang out on Haight Street. Carlos Santana is from SF’s Mission, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead from the Excelsior.
      • Big funk scene, Sly and the Family Stone from Vallejo
    • Political protest and liberal politics
      • Black Panther Party started in Oakland, CA. Infiltrated and attacked by the FBI, regarded biggest enemy to political establishment
      • UC Berkeley is the site of civil rights, anti-Vietnam war protests, etc.
      • Social movements boom in the 60s and decline in the 70s as a result of assassinations, law enforcement crackdowns, drugs, economic recession

  • Hip-Hop hits the West Coast
    • Hip-hop starts as a counter-culture in New York City. DJing, graffiti, breaking, and MCing become forms of expression responding from poor conditions in inner-cities. Spreads like wildfire through word-of-mouth and music, the 1983 film “Style Wars” influences many people outside of NYC. Bay Area youth begin to emulate and eventually develop their own forms of hip-hop. Hip-Hop is one of the biggest youth movements ever seen
    • In 1984, conditions in inner-cities decline even further with crack epidemic. Addiction, crime, and violence tear apart communities nationwide- especially in Oakland, CA.
    • Crack epidemic also spawns this:
      • Too $hort, born in LA raised in Oakland, begins rapping and recording tapes with friends. He went from neighborhood to neighborhood selling tapes. Eventually, his music spreads across the entire Bay Area, West Coast, US, and eventually the entire world.
      • Mostly known for X-rated raps, Too $hort has also released socially-conscious music that reflects on the state of the community. “Girl” is the first example.
    • Other artists begin to sell tapes
      • Most Bay Area hip-hop music in the 80s is “gangsta” rap, providing honest commentary on the state of Bay communities.
      • Early examples include Hugh EMC (Fillmore, SF), and 415 (Oakland CA) - which was Richie Rich’s rap group. Snoop Dogg cites them as the inspiration to create 213 with Nate Dogg & Warren G, crediting Richie Rich as a major influence to his rhyme delivery.
      • A non-gangsta rapper who came up in the 1980s was MC Hammer, who borrowed money from Oakland A’s players to start creating and selling his own tapes. He eventually blew up based off his dance skills and live perfromances.
    • Graffiti in the 80s - Bay Area writers begin developing their own styles and graffiti explodes in the Bay.

  • The 90s: The Rise of Bay Area Independence
    • Inspired by Too $hort and others, Bay Area artists begin starting their own labels and finding success. With most major labels based out of LA or NY, Bay artists build their own support within the underground
      • Sick-Wit-It: Started by E-40 out of Hillside, Vallejo. Artists include: The Click (E-40, his brother D-Shot, their sister Suga T, and their cousin B-Legit), Celly Cel, Little Bruce, & more.
      • Get Low Records: Producer/rapper JT The Bigga Figga of the Fillmore was the business brain behind this label which included the Get Low Playaz (JT, San Quinn, D-Moe & Seff The Gaffla)
      • Young Black Brotha: The producer Khayree created this powerhouse label which gave a start to artists such as Mac Dre, Mac Mall, Dubee (Crestside, Vallejo), Young Lay (North Vallejo), & Ray Luv (Santa Rosa).
      • In-A-Minute Records: Although this label was not started by artists, they put out records by San Francisco artists such as IMP, Dre Dog (aka Andre Nickatina), and  RBL Posse, and Totally Insane of East Palo Alto.
      • Master P moves to Richmond from New Orleans and starts No Limit Records. He later moved back and used much of what he learned to bring his independent label to the mainstream & achieve huge success. Many accuse him of stealing game & turning his back on the Bay.
    • With so many labels and artists, many collaborations were released on compilations which became a big part of the Bay Area scene. Some of the most successful include Herm’s “Trying To Survive In The Ghetto,” Master P’s “West Coast Bad Boyz” which went Gold, and Black-N-Brown’s “17 Reasons.”
    • The Bay Area becomes major innovators of DJing & turntablism
      • Bomb Hip-Hop record label releases several compilations, including the first all-DJ compilation “Return of the DJ”
    • In addition to the gangsta rap scene, the Bay Area is home to many alternative artists
      • The Coup (Boots Riley & DJ Pam The Funkstress) of Oakland has heavy political message
      • Living Legends is founded in Oakland by Mystik Journeymen
      • Bored Stiff of San Francisco influences underground hip-hop worldwide
      • Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf come out of San Jose. After Charizma was murdered in East Palo Alto, PB Wolf starts one of the biggest independent labels, Stones Throw Records.
      • Paris comes out of San Francisco with a controversial political sound
      • Hieroglyphics is formed in Oakland by Del The Funky Homosapien (Ice Cube’s cousin), and includes Casual, Pep Luv, Souls Of Mischief. After the individual artists are dropped from major labels they start their own independent brand.
    • Production sound goes from heavy sampling to the trademark “mobb” sound. Producers such as Tone Capone, Mike Mosely, Khayree, TC, Ant Banks have a heavy influence
    • Oakland graffiti artist Mike Dream pioneered Bay Area style and put conscious messages in his art until his murder in 2000.

  • The Decline and Resurgence
    • The Bay Area scene is oversaturated with artists, compilations, and labels. The socially-conscious gangsta rap becomes glorified and marketed towards the mainstream.
    • Many artists are unable to escape street life
      • Incarceration affects the careers of several artists, such as Pooh Man who is currently serving time for armed robbery.
      • Many artists die, including Hitman & Mr. Cee of RBL Posse, leaving Black C as the only survivng member
      • The death of 2Pac (who was raised in Marin City/Oakland, worked with many Bay artists, and had a large influence from the Bay Area) sets off an overall decline in rap music.
      • At the height of his popularity and on the verge of mainstream success, Mac Dre is gunned dwown in Kansas City in 2004
    • After being discovered by Too $hort, Atlanta artist Lil Jon blows up and eventually signs E-40 to a deal with Universal.
    • The Hyphy Movement shows the world many aspects of Bay culture which sparks nationwide interest in the Bay. However, Hyphy becomes played out quick with many artists jumping on the bandwagon and very little of the Bay’s diversity gets exposure.
      • This brings many new artists to the spotlight, such as Mistah FAB, Big Rich, the Jacka, and the Pack

  • Present day
    • There are now a wide variety of Bay Area artists pushing different styles of music
    • E-40 and Too $hort are still relevant, releasing albums in 2012- however there is a lack of Bay Area artists in the mainstream
    • The independent tradition carries on, and many artists find success through the internet
    • Turf dancing is created and gets worldwide attention
    • The Bay is still a center for large community and political movements, such as rallies around Oscar Grant and the Occupy Oakland movement

  • The Future…
    • …is up to US to create! Keep the culture of Bay Area hip-hop alive!

Photo of graffiti on a wall in Paris. A stylized profile of Troy Davis’ head and shoulders stares into the camera. There is text written around him in French, translated below.

“i didnt jump with joy on November 4 (election of Obama). TV was feeding us tons of hope but its not enough to make amends for 400 years of history”


Photo of graffiti on a wall in Paris. A stylized profile of Troy Davis’ head and shoulders stares into the camera. There is text written around him in French, translated below.

“i didnt jump with joy on November 4 (election of Obama). TV was feeding us tons of hope but its not enough to make amends for 400 years of history”