Top 5 Bay Area Hyphy Bangers That Every Hip Hop Head Should Know
In the late 1990s, Keak da Sneak coined the term “hyphy.” “Hyphy” means to be hyperactive and defined a generation of rap in Northern California. The Bay Area created its own Mecca for underground rap in the early 2000s. Some of the Bay Area hip hop pioneers include Mac Dre, Andre Nickatina, E-40, The Jacka, and Too $hort. These five helped curate a genre known for outlandish lyrics, aggressive beats, and silly ad-libs.
Growing up in San Francisco in the early 2000s, I was immersed in Bay Area hip hop culture from an early age. I’d hear low riders doing donuts in my high school’s parking lot, attend local shows at Slim’s (RIP), and go to Oakland for first Fridays every month to see up-and-coming musicians perform. Throughout my young adulthood, at every party I’d go to I’d hear the same 10 songs, but nobody was mad! These songs were greeted with the same smiling, thizz faces throughout the crowd.
Since the Mac Dre era, new rappers have made a name for themselves in the Bay Area hip-hop scene. Some of those artists include P-Lo, Nef the Pharaoh, Sage the Gemini, Kamaiyah, ALLBLACK, Iamsu!, Guapdad 4000, and Shoreline Mafia. Although, each have taken influence from the OG’s, many have ventured into multimillion-dollar record deals and toured across the world.
So I’ve curated my top five bangers with current and older songs to give you a taste of the history and vibes from the Bay Area.
5) “CARPOOLIN'” by SOB X RBE
Coming in hot at number 5 is Vallejo’s own SOB X RBE and their lead single off their sophomore album, “Carpoolin’.” The track makes you want to swerve in and out of traffic while your friend sticks their head out of the window while holding a bottle of Henny. SOB X RBE exude Bay Area flavor on this track by spitting extremely fast about guns, cars, and rolling with the homies. Sadly, the future of the group is unknown while Lul G is in jail and the other three members, Yhung T.O., DaBoii, and Slimmy B are in the process of signing to labels as independent artists.
Other tracks I’d recommend by SOB X RBE: Rich, Lane Changing, and Ain’t Got Time
4) “OUT THE BOTTLE” BY KAMAIYAH
“Out the Bottle” by Oakland and Sacramento native Kamaiyah is a synth-heavy track with fun lyrics about haters, going out to the club, and spending money on lavish activities. Kamaiyah delivers hard-hitting verses with an effortless vibe throughout. She could care less about what anyone else thinks about her and her lifestyle. This is a top Bay Area hip hop track because it’s so versatile — it could be heard at an art gallery opening or a 50th birthday party. Most recently, she was included in XXL’s Freshman Class of 2017 and soon after launched a record label called GRND.WRK. Additionally, her third project “Got It Made,” dropped in late February and is starting to make waves nationally.
Other tracks I’d recommend by Kamaiyah: Fuck It Up, Leave Em, and Set It Up
3) “BITCH I LOOK GOOD” by Kool John ft. P-Lo
“Bitch I Look Good” by Kool John featuring P-Lo is a Bay Area staple, you can hear this hyphy track blasting at any bar. Both artists are a big part of the new wave of Norcal rappers born out of the group HBK Gang. Also, P-Lo is known as one of the most used producers to help create the new hyphy-era sound. In particular, this track is laid back but has hard lyrics like “Shmoplife, heartbreakers always get the dough / Uh, hoes choosin’ when I walk though,” and “I used to eat noodles in my living room / Now it’s Benihanas as my dinner food.”
Other tracks I’d recommend by Kool John: Blue Hunnids, Every Night, and Mad
2) “TELL ME WHEN TO GO” BY E-40
“I’m from the Bay where we hyphy and go dumb / From the soil where them rappers be getting they lingo from.” E-40 will forever rep the Bay and is one of the only alive members of the OG hyphy movement. His track “Tell Me When to Go,” to encapsulates so much Norcal culture in under four minutes. The beat is funky and reliant on drums, record scratching, and chimes. E-40 and Keak Da Sneak GO off on this track. They take us on a day in life talking about smoking and car racing while making us want to dance. This track will never get old.
Other tracks I’d recommend by E-40: Chase the Money and Need to Know
1) “GET STUPID” by MAC DRE
- My top Bay Area slap is “Get Stupid” by Mac Dre. This is the number one song I’d put on to get a party going. If you’re a Bay Area native, you immediately start yelling all the lyrics, no matter your age. The track is mellow but makes any party into a function. One of the lines that makes the Bay stand apart from other scenes is “See in the bay area we dance a lil different / The bay bounce to thizzle / The west coast wizzle / Do the get stupid come fuck with drizzle.” Therefore, this song defines the hyphy movement and Norcal hip hop. RIP Mac Dre.
Other tracks I’d recommend by Mac Dre:
If you couldn’t tell yet, Bay Area hip hop is all about getting lit with your friends, repping your zip code, and talking about your side hustles. Although, Norcal hip hop remains underground as those participants curate an insane scene within their hometowns. There’s nothing like going to a warehouse to see a lineup of 20 local rappers, with the walls are covered in graffiti and everyone rolling Backwoods.