From Hammer to Hyphy, Bay Area is Getting Noticed
From Hammer to hyphy, Bay Area is getting noticed

byDavey D

Will 2006 be the year when the Bay Area's burgeoning hip-hop scene finally gets the national attention and respect it deserves?

All the signs seem to say ``yes.''

MTV will come to the Bay Area over the next couple of weeks to document a scene that many are saying can no longer be ignored.


In recent weeks, we've seen Bay Area groups such as Flipside, featuring Oakland rapper the Piper and popular DJ D-Sharp, on the Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien shows. The group's popular song ``America'' has been chosen as the U.S. theme at the Winter Olympics.

Other groups such as Hieroglyphics and Lyrics Born not only have sold more than 100,000 albums each, a phenomenal feat for an independent act, but each is touring overseas, letting folks know about Bay Area hip-hop.

Still other acts such as Paris are contributing to the scene: The long-awaited album he produced for Public Enemy, ``Rebirth of a Nation,'' will be out soon, and there's a lot of buzz about it.

Even icons like MC Hammer are getting warm receptions when they return to the scene, as evidenced at the BET (Black Entertainment Television) anniversary show and Hammer's recent concert in Concord.

But generating the most buzz is the recent release of E-40's song and video ``Tell Me When to Go,'' which captures the spirit and essence of the Bay Area's ``hyphy'' movement.
Often described as the Northern California version of crunk, except more up-tempo, hyphy has been known to hip-hop fans here for several years but is relatively new elsewhere.
I recall when the Federation and E-40 released the anthem-type song ``Hyphy'' in 2004. It became a monster hit here but received only a lukewarm response beyond the Bay Area. It barely got any airtime in Los Angeles. But nowadays, hyphy artists like Keak Da Sneak, who is featured on E-40's new song, are heard all the time on radio stations in Southern California and around the country. That's a welcome change.
Keak's current song ``Superhyphy,'' produced by San Jose's Traxamillion, has helped heighten the growing excitement about Bay Area hip-hop. A quick look at Keak's ``My Space'' Web page (, which lists more than 40,000 ``friends'' and gets an astronomical number of visits daily, is a testament to that.

San Jose artist Shamako Noble, president of the Hip Hop Congress, points out that while the hyphy movement is huge, it is getting some unfair resistance from the San Jose City Council and downtown authorities, who seem uneasy about an increasing number of Bay Area hip-hop artists converging on the city and its nightclubs. One result of this apprehension is an overabundance of police officers projecting a ``You are not welcome here'' attitude, he says.

Despite that obstacle, Noble notes that other factors helping raise national awareness of hip-hop in the Bay Area include the presences of renowned authors and professors such as Jeff Chang, Tricia Rose, Ricky Vincent, Adisa Banjoko and Oliver Wang. The Stanford Hip Hop Archives, led by Professor Marcyliena Morgan, is planning a number of high-profile events, including the Bridging the Gap Conference in March. Watch this column for more details.

All these developments suggest this region's hip-hop is set to explode in 2006, and it looks to be one heck of a ride.