It's a strange time for Bay Area hip-hop. On one hand, it's having a moment of resurgence: Following the breakout successes of Iamsu! and Sage the Gemini, last year saw local songwriter Bobby Brackins hit it big with two of the year's monster hits, and E-40 recently found himself atop Billboard's Hot Hip-Hop and R&B Songs chart thanks to his collaboration with Big Sean, "IDFWU." On the other hand, the Bay is hurting: Last month, local icon The Jacka was tragically killed in his home city of Oakland.
Still, music new and old continues to exist, and heartfelt tributes to and signs of the The Jacka's influence continue to emerge. At Noisey, we love Bay Area rap, so we've teamed up with our friends over at Thizzler on the Roof to present a mix of some of the best the region has to offer right now. Volume Two of On The Roof, dedicated to The Jacka, is below, with descriptions of each track in the mix:
The Jacka feat. Dru Down and Joe Blow - “The President’s Face”
The Bay took a huge blow to the heart last month with the loss of the legendary Mob Figaz member The Jacka in a late night Oakland shooting. The Jacka was on a great run over the past year, releasing a solo mixtape (What Happened To The World) and the long awaited Highway Robbery album with Freeway, so it’s even sadder that he was gunned down with so much more to come on the horizon. On this standout joint off What Happened To The World, The Jacka links with partners in mob Dru Down and Joe Blow for a somber, echo-filled ode to dope money.
Alier Johnson - “Killa” (prod. Lexi Banks)
I (Matt) discovered Alier Johnson, who was born in Chicago and raised in Oakland, a month or two back after a studio session with Thizzler affiliate Magic City Studios. The homie Chris Mixx played through his whole upcoming LP, and I was blown away. Fast forward to now, and this is the first single off the now-Thizzler.com-presented album High N’ Love. On “Killa,” Alier mixes fast paced lyricism with a smooth melodic hook, waxing philosophical on his past relationships.
Iamsu! - “Nothin’ Less” (prod. DJ Mustard)
HBK Gang’s iamsu! keeps killing it: He recently announced his solo Eyes On Me tour, organized and performed at a packed HBK Day event, and dropped his new Eyes On Me EP. The Bay's eyes really are all on him, and he makes it look easy to deliver with this introspective joint produced by the slap master DJ Mustard.
Snow Tha Product - “AyAyAy!” (prod. Blue The Misfit)
San Jose to Texas’s Snow Tha Product is RAW! We’ve been watching Snow for a minute now, and we're pretty confident she can gas any competition, regardless of gender. With the new bilingual cut “AyAyAy!,” Snow goes in over a bass heavy Blue The Misfit production, switching effortlessly between English and Spanish and topping it off with a hypnotic hook for the Latinas.
HD of Bearfaced feat. G-Dirty - “Girl Krazy”
An Oakland staple, HD got out of jail a few years back and has been dropping heat ever since. In keeping with the Oakland independent style, HD favors quantity over quality, putting out tape after tape and single after single. But unlike many street artists, HD delivers more gems than duds, and this track, released on Valentine’s Day, is one of them. HD and G-Dirty profess their love to their girls, but they aren’t talking about your average ladies; they love white girl (cocaine), their ninas (nine millimeter pistols), and chasing Goapele (guap a.k.a. money).
Rayven Justice feat. French Montana - “Hit Or Nah (Remix)”
Rayven Justice had a decent sized hit last year with “Slide Thru,” which dominated the FM airwaves. Now he hopes to continue that trend with “Hit Or Nah,” a West Coast club anthem that now features New York’s French Montana.
RAZO feat. Dam Theuz - “Devil On My Back”
RAZO is a youngster we’ve been watching for the last year and a half or so, and he continues to impress us. At 17 years old, he’s crafted a signature sound, with production similar to Curren$y or early Wiz. Here he snaps on a sentimental sampled beat with his homie Dam Theuz, who also blazes the track.
A-Wax - “Rest In Peace To The Jacka” (prod. Sbvce)
For as long as I can remember, A-Wax has had a legendary beef with the Mob Figaz, even going so far as to brawl in the street with Jacka and Husalah at SXSW a few years back. But with The Jacka’s passing, A-Wax expresses his regret over how things went down and even laments that if things had gone differently he would have been honored to have been the sixth Mob Figa. It’s a very heartfelt song over a somber flip of Aerosmith's “Dream On.”
Nef The Pharaoh - “Big Tymin’”
Ooooooh, I’m ballin like Baby! Twenty-year-old Vallejo MC Nef The Pharaoh has seen his buzz shoot through the roof lately, with a local hit last year in “Bitch I’m From Vallejo,” a feature on E-40’s Sharp On All 4 Corners album, an appearance in Thizzler's Bay Area Freshmen Ten Class of 2014. Now, with “Big Tymin',” he has another clap on his hands. Paying homage to Cash Money’s Big Tymers, Nef goes in on a minimal beat to let you know: Bitch he’s big tymin'!
Young Bari - “The Beat Goes” (prod. YPOnTheBeat)
Having first seen success at the age of 14 with a spot on BET’s 106 and Park, Young Bari continues to go strong—and all without ever cursing on record. Not only that, but up and coming producer YPOnTheBeat has been tearing the streets up lately, becoming one of the most in-demand producers in the Bay Area. On this trunk-rattling production, Bari flexes with his flow, riding the beat perfectly.
Young Bari's "The Beat Goes" cover
Priceless Da Roc feat. Diamond, Traxamillion - “Birthday Party” (prod. Traxamillion)
The undisputed king of yiken (a form of twerking) music in the Bay Area, Priceless delivers another banging party joint, this time produced and sung by Bay Area hyphy legend Traxamillion. Mixing Auto-Tune with bumping production and Priceless’s lyrical dexterity, this is definitely one you can clap in the club.
Fly Commons feat. Traxamillion, Nio Tha Gift, and Erk Tha Jerk - “Elevators” (prod. Fly Commons)
Bay Area producer Fly Commons linked with Bay standouts Traxamillion, Nio Tha Gift, and Erk Tha Jerk for this half downtempo, half triumphant turn-up of a track, off his upcoming album GreyScale.
The World’s Freshest and J. Stalin - “Age”
The World’s Freshest (a.k.a. DJ Fresh) has made a name for himself in the Bay Area and beyond for his unique style, sampling 80s music and turning it into modern day street classics. Here, Fresh links with Oakland kingpin J. Stalin for a smooth slap off the upcoming collab album Real World 4.
akafrank feat. Prank and Dub - “Down Graded”
akafrank has long been one of the most slept on artists in the Bay Area, both as a producer and an MC. In keeping with Bay tradition, this is a bass heavy trunk rattler that finds Frank reuniting with Dub and former Diligentz group mate Prank, who happens to be one of my personal favorite MCs who, unfortunately, never seems to release new music.
Fidel Cash, Hollywood Keefy, RBC Bugzy, and Symba - “Feelings”
Fidel Cash, Symba, Hollywood Keefy and RBC Bugzy are all Thizzler favorites. These four MCs have been building their respective brands in the Bay Area hip-hop scene for years, often collaborating on songs together. “Feelings” is a track that teases the idea of them forming a super group called Neglected Kings. It works well as an inaugural track, as it showcases each artist's strengths. The message is simple: “Fuck your opinion because I came right here to die anyway.”
Project Poppa - “Problem”
Every hood has at least one Project Poppa representing: Meek Mill in Philly, Boosie in Baton Rouge, YG in Compton, King Louie in Chicago. Poppa brings the gritty side of hip-hop that attracts criticism that the genre is too violent. The East Oakland rapper is blasting guns, holding down his squad, and fucking your main. His video to his street single “Take Off” recalls memories of Chief Keef's early videos. His squad's behind him, women are absent, and guns are present. “Problem” finds the rapper in familiar territory, rapping “Glock 9 got a drum in it” over an infectious trap beat. Project Poppa represents the street side of hip-hop, a side that can't be ignored.
Berner's 20 Lights cover
Joe Blow feat. Mozzy and Street Knowledge - “Yo Love”
One of the frontrunners of The Jacka’s Artist Records label, Joe Blow is an underground favorite in the streets of the Bay Area, representing a heavy Jacka influence in his own voice. Street Knowledge, another Artist Records member, and Mozzy, an up and coming street artist from Sacramento, also jump on board this smooth, sentimental track talking about the street life.
Berner feat. Mac Dre - “Dump”
Ten years after his death, Mac Dre is still the Bay's most well known artist, so it makes sense that Berner, one of a few up and coming Bay area artists aiming to reach that same level, got a rare unreleased Mac Dre verse for his new project 20 Lights. The beat is so dirty and compliments the legend's cadence well, while Berner doesn't disappoint, riding the beat perfectly.
Catalyst - “Loman”
Marin County’s Catalyst is one of those rare MCs who is both stellar in cyphers and also has the ability to write fire songs that are both relatable and sonically pleasing. Catalyst may be most recognizable as a frequent and vicious contributor to TeamBackPack's cyphers, but with “Loman” he shows a contemplative, reflective, and even depressing side.
Show Banga and Tia Nomore - “Cakewalk” (prod. Exclusive)
“Even when I'm catting money rolling in,” says Tia Nomore, part of Thizzler's 2014 Bay Area Freshmen 10 class. She's a hard spitter with a high pitched voice that doesn't quite match the menacing and streetwise bars she unleashes. This collaboration with San Francisco's Show Banga, who has been building his buzz with the Sage The Gemini-assisted “Been That,” is a perfect combination, with Showy’s gruff tones balancing out Tia’s higher octaves.
G-Val - “Hatin’ On Me”
G-Val has San Francisco on fire right now, with songs like “Hatin' On Me,” “Facts Straight,” and “City Shine” spreading like a plague from hood to hood. Representing Hunter’s Point, G-Val has managed to bridge a lot of boundaries to bring the whole city together in support of his music, and on this track he mixes verses about the street life, Mac Dre soundbites, and a catchy hook for a perfect street anthem.
Cousin Fik and Fastraks feat. Nef The Pharaoh and Willie Joe - “Feels Good”
Sick Wid It’s Cousin Fik has been making great music with his own style for a while (he was a Thizzler Bay Area Freshman back in 2010), but over the past few years he has really been emerging as one of most respected MCs in the Bay. With push from E-40, he’s not going anywhere any time soon. On this one, he links with fellow Vallejo residents Nef The Pharaoh and Willie Joe for another banger.
Cousin Fik's Toll Money cover
Caleborate feat. Clyde Shankle - “The Twice Told Joke” (prod. Willem Ardui and Ian Mckee)
Caleborate is a Berkeley MC who is known for keeping it true to himself. On “The Twice Told Joke” he shows his vulnerability in a way that is both refreshing and relatable, and the song also features a very strong feature from Down 2 Earth's Clyde Shankle, over a vibed-out guitar sample.
Young Gully feat. Ghost8800 and Clint Collins - “Reach For The Stars”
Oakland’s Young Gully has been one of our favorite Bay Area MCs for a while now, with a reputation in the Bay as one of the hardest lyricists out. Last year, we lost another one of our friends with Ghost8800 falling victim to gun violence. But on “Reach For The Stars,” Ghost is resurrected for a fire verse after Gully snaps on the F1rst Class-produced, sax-heavy Sade flip. Clint Collins bats third to drop some knowledge on the last verse. Long live Ghost!
Milla feat. Iamsu! and John Hart - “Turn It Out”
“Turn It Out” is an example of Milla's ability to make radio friendly slappers. Milla is a versatile MC from East Palo Alto who can spit, make club joints, and even sing (check out his duo The Clones). "Turn It Out" features Iamsu! and John Hart, who last linked together on Hart's smash hit “Who Booty.” In 2014, Milla was named one of our Bay Area Freshmen because of his versatility and ability to make universal records.
Bobby Brackins feat. Zendaya and Jeremih - “My Jam”
Bobby Brackins had a big year in 2014, writing two of the biggest songs that hit the radio, Tinashe's “2 On” and Chris Brown's “Loyal.” There's no doubt he can make hits, and “My Jam,” which features fellow Oakland representative Zendaya as well as Jeremih, proves this. It features the same bouncy production that was inescapable last year during Mustard's radio domination. If we get more like “My Jam” from Brackins, we can expect his career as a feature artist to pop off as much as much as his career as a songwriter.
Smoovie Baby feat. iamsu! and Show Banga - “How U Luv That”
Smoovie Baby is a Fairfield rapper and songwriter whose Black Money label initially broke Sage The Gemini’s “Gas Pedal.” Like Sage, Smoovie is always prepared to get the party turnt up but can also snap lyrically if necessary. “How You Luv That” is a slap for the function, and features from Showy and Sudi are icing on this turnt ass cake.
Larry June's Bluntiq Vol. 1 cover
Larry June - “It’s A Drought” (prod. Bassfingerz)
There's something intriguing about Harlem's A$AP Rocky rapping like he's from Houston. The same can be said for San Francisco's Larry June, who draws his sound from Atlanta's scene. He doesn't quite have an accent, but as you can hear on “It's A Drought,” his cadences are commonplace in Atlanta's trap music scene. He often works with TM88, and this banging production is by Bassfingerz.
Remedy feat. Roach Gigz - “My Team” (prod. Remedy)
It's intriguing to find an artist embrace what many would attempt to avoid mentioning in conversation. Remedy, a wheelchair-bound rapper from San Francisco, uses his disability to his advantage almost to a fault. His punchlines often include references to his wheelchair (“Lord Wheelin,” “Wheel Power,” “Twerk Chair,” etc.). However, Remedy has been grinding for a long time and is good friends with some of San Francisco’s other rising stars, such as Roach Gigz and Show Banga. His hard work is paying off, which is why he was chosen as one of our Bay Area Freshmen for 2014. “My Team” finds Remedy trading bars with his homie Roach Gigz about who they do it for: their team.
Chippass - “Everybody”
Chippass was originally introduced to the Bay as one third of East Oakland's NhT Boyz, but Chippass's Loyalty Over Royalty EP showed that he could stand alone as a solo act. “Everybody” is a track that showcase Chippass’s strengths—his flow is brash and in your face, but that doesn't excuse him from offering witty wordplay. “Life shorter than a skirt, niggas spraying fuck a squirt / I didn't like your verse, Unemployed it doesn't work.”
Thizzler.com and DJ Ghost Present: Mob In Peace Pt. 1
When the Jacka passed last month, DJ Ghost put together a mix of The Jacka's most important work for those who are uninitiated. Running at an hour and seven minutes, this mix is only a peek in to the prolific catalog the Jack Artist amassed over the years. Give it a listen and find out why he was so loved. MOB In Peace The Jacka.