Bay at Large: New Local Rap From SWTBRDS, HBK Gang, Hot Sugar, and More
It's time to talk about rap. It's been a busy couple weeks for Bay Area rappers and producers, some of whom are not even really working in the Bay right now. Though many of these alumni are pretty scattered geographically, there's still a decent argument for grouping them together, just based on Bay-ness. Here's a roundup of some recent Bay Area hip-hop releases.
Chris Brennan Squadda B and Mondre M.A.N. of Main Attrakionz are working on new solo material.
Nick Koenig, a.k.a. Hot Sugar, arranged his favorite rappers on the excellent new Made Man EP, out Oct. 1, and there's a strong Bay Area presence on the 10-track record. Even though Koenig is from New York, the EP is peppered with multiple appearances from young Bay Area voices like Antwon, Chippy Nonstop, and Kool AD, among other talented underground up-and-comers from around the country. Koenig's style is based around strange found-sound loops and everything from classical compositions to the rhythmic obscurities of the real world.
Local production duo Friendzone, who finally just saw its big A$AP Rocky hit "Fashion Killa" come out in Rihanna-starring, Zales-worthy video form, is about to drop a new album called DX tomorrow, Oct. 9. In the meantime, the duo has shared a mix that includes lots of recent production influences, along with a few of their own instrumentals.
Speaking of Main Attrakionz: Squadda B and Mondre M.A.N. are still letting off steam over in Oakland, in case you were wondering. Squadda dropped another solo mixtape on Oct. 4, shortly after Mondre released the video for his new single "MC Illin." Mondre's solo album, which will come out on the SWTBRDS label Nov. 12, is entirely produced by one of the label's founders, Al Jieh. SWTBRDS also dropped a batch of instrumentals from Oakland DJ-turned-MC Ammbush this past week. Beats by Ammbaataa is yet another reminder how interwoven this group of artists is.
In other East Bay news, Steady Bloggin' points to more Berkeley-bred pimp rap from 100s, who also found himself in good company last month landing a track, "Life of a Mack," on the "Grand Theft Auto V" soundtrack.
Elsewhere, the rumor mill is still churning after Oakland rapper Kafani was shot five times while filming a music video in Oakland last Saturday, Sept. 29. Kafani's video shoots have been blamed for violence in the past. Attempting to combat speculation that it had something to do with an ongoing beef, fellow Oakland rapper Philthy Rich tweeted Monday evening that, according to Kafani's wife, the rapper, who was in critical condition last Saturday, is now "doing fine," though this is unconfirmed.
You can glimpse some of Richmond's HBK Gang in the "Summer Jam" video that dropped over the weekend: a Kool John track featuring fellow Freshman 10 alumni HBK P-Lo and Iamsu. It's flagrantly off-season, if you're a stickler for those types of things, but well-timed if you want to, you know, make it a critique of the U.S. Government ("We shut it down, we shut it down, we shut it down," etc). HBK is planning a big Heart Break Halloween bash at the Regency Ballroom Oct. 31, featuring Suzy, Sage the Gemini, DJ Amen, and others.
Finally, here's some unconventional visuals; a stark and powerful acapella from SF's always underrated A-1, aka Adam Traore. Standing in a single frame delivering the verses from "Guns Off," Traore's dramatic take on the Trayvon Martin shooting is, some might argue, a little belated. But as he explains in the description: "I didn't want this video to get lost in all of the hype surrounding the case." If you want to support this guy and the city you're from, go buy one of the "Thurl" tees in a limited edition 'Niners colorway.