Home News What’s the Rap in Oakland? | East Bay Express

What’s the Rap in Oakland? | East Bay Express


It’s a Saturday afternoon, and I’m strolling to satisfy rapper and producer Ovrkast. at Half 2 Gallery in downtown Oakland. We’re searching for his buddies and fellow rappers and producers, Michael Sneed and Demahjiae. After peeking into Minto’s Jamaican Restaurant & Bar and searching on the menu, we quickly notice they’re shut by at Minto’s Jamaican Market.

Sneed and Demahjiae are ordering smoothies, and inform me a few of their favourite objects on the menu. Subsequent we head to p2. Gallery, additionally in downtown Oakland, which acts as their recording studio. It’s on our stroll to the gallery the place I observe the camaraderie that has fashioned between these three particular person artists.

The contributions Oakland, and the Bay Space rap scene basically, have made to hip-hop can’t be disputed. Nonetheless, the problem many artists from the area face when selecting to enter the rap recreation is staying true to Bay Space roots, but additionally carving out their very own lane and pushing The City’s sound and tradition ahead. Nonetheless, a problem that some hip-hop artists face internationally is when their musical model doesn’t match inside the field that the music trade all too usually locations on hip-hop artists, significantly these from the Bay Space.

“Even when I don’t get as large, simply having an impression on my metropolis, and letting the youngsters know that they don’t have to evolve to what we’re identified for. They will do no matter they need. Even previous music—drawing, style…issues that aren’t actually identified for coming from the Bay,” Demahjiae shared.

So how does one achieve an area following whereas selecting a musical model that will not prolong from the Bay Space rap titans of the previous? What if one feels one’s impression as a Bay Space artist is for younger children within the Bay Space to really feel like they need to don’t have any sonic limitation?

In a way, East Oakland hip-hop artists Michael Sneed, Ovrkast. and Demahjiae signify a wave of Bay Space artists who come round each 10-15 years. That’s, artists who aesthetically align with the northern California way of life; nevertheless, sonically when listening to their music, it’s laborious to hint Oakland influences in it. Ovrkast. is each a rapper and producer. His manufacturing usually has sped up low-fi beats, disjointed timing, sprinkled in with stellar instrumentation and soul samples. For a lot of listeners, they could hear the spirit of J. Dilla all through his manufacturing.

Ovrkast.’s journey within the rap recreation started like many artists throughout the nation. In 2016, he started posting beats on Bandcamp, and over time was in a position to achieve the eye of Earl Sweatshirt. In 2019, he acquired  a producer credit score on Earl’s EP, Ft of Clay, on the music, “EL TORO COMBO MEAL.” In 2020, he launched his debut mixtape, Attempt Once more, displaying his monotone and quiet, but by some means confident lyrics.The venture was in a position to capitalize on his prior publicity from the Earl Sweatshirt collaboration to generate over 1 million streams on Spotify.

In 2022, he launched Attempt Once more (Deluxe), that includes a further three songs to his debut mixtape.

On the Attempt Once more venture, one of many many standout songs is “Church,” that includes Demahjiae. The 2 effortlessly share bars over the practically two minute observe, concerning matters similar to police brutality, the realities of rising up in East Oakland and perseverance. Their collaborative partnership goes all the way in which again to grammar faculty.

Among the many three, Dehmahjiae and Ovrkast. have identified one another the longest. Their story begins in seventh grade on the now closed E.C Reems Constitution College.

“I used to be attempting to pick buddies and seen he’s taking part in with tape decks, and figured I’d tried to hangout with him,” Dehmajie mirrored on his first impression of Ovrkast.

In 2017, they have been each affiliated with the rap collective, Lo-Fiction, and in 2019 they fashioned the group, do extra.

For Demahjiae, who raps and produces as effectively, his ardour for music began within the church, the place he was in a position to learn to play the organ and the drums.

“I used to be all the time nervous in regards to the rhythms and what I might do with a rhythm,” Demahjiae shared.

As a solo artist, Demahjiae launched himself to Bay Space rap followers with the EP, Ghetto Blessings, in 2018. In 2020, he launched his comply with up venture, And, Such is Life, which included visitor options from Pink Siifu and Michael Sneed. It was by early collaborations and the discharge of his first two tasks that Demahjiae started to develop a repute as an artist closely influenced by jazz, and sonically much like Flying Lotus.

Extra just lately, in November, he launched his third full size solo venture, Angels Put on Black. The 9 observe EP offers listeners with a lo-fi jazz beats expertise, coupled with unpredictable rhyme patterns that require full consideration. He used the COVID pandemic to rededicate himself as a producer as effectively.

“I ended up going again to my roots and shopping for an precise bodily drum equipment. I ended up getting piano classes from a household pal, after which I ended up simply beginning to make my very own samples, after which I stepped away from samples for a couple of months,” Demahjiae stated.

He additionally used this time to be taught different devices as effectively.

“I picked up different percussion devices just like the conga. I used to be utilizing all these completely different codecs to see what different features of myself I might discover myself in devices,” he shared.

“From a.m. to p.m. /Serving exterior the ampm/Each vendor I do know is genius/Doing numbers math class might by no means educate us.”

These are lyrics from Michael Sneed’s 2021 breakout single and accompanying video, “Paw Patrol.” The video, directed by Dakota Lim, reveals Sneed and his buddies freely driving round East Oakland on a phenomenal sunny day, as he artfully reaffirms his peaceable allegiance to his buddies turned brothers.

Throughout my dialog with Sneed, Dehmahjiae and Ovrkast., it was revealed that Sneed is initially from West Oakland, and later moved to East Oakland as a teen. It was this transfer to East Oakland, the place he started to replicate on the variations between himself and his neighborhood buddies, and the divergent paths their lives would take.

“I’m the man that likes comedian books and musical theater,” Sneed stated.

“I wish to suppose that there’s folks like me who grew up completely different from their friends. That they had a mom or father that sort of sheltered them. So I wish to suppose I’m chatting with them. I additionally wish to suppose I’m talking for my buddies too, who additionally needed to do sure issues simply to outlive and get by,” he defined.

In 2019, he launched his first mixtape, Days We Misplaced, two years after he graduated from Howard College in Washington, DC and moved again to Oakland. The debut venture was fused with jazz, gospel and witty lyrics sprinkled with odes to Sneed’s love of his hometown.

Since 2019, Sneed has launched a gentle stream of songs. Final summer time, he launched the music, “Fill Time Job II,” which was once more accompanied by one other stellar video, this time directed by Erik Saevi and Emilio Miguel Diaz. He was additionally featured on the music, “All Day,” off of Dehmajiae’s Angel’s Put on Black venture.

Along with the singles, Sneed was a distinguished visitor star on P-Lo’s album, STUNNA, offering three options to the 13 music document. In December of 2022, there was the EP, “Catalytic Converters Beneath the Christmas Tree.” The 5 music Christmas EP not solely serves as one other show of Sneed’s lyrical prowess, but additionally his continued progress as a producer. After key efficiency on STUNNA, and a creating repute as an artist, one can depend on effectively produced music movies.

In relation to Sneed’s purpose, he’s centered on ensuring future artists from the area don’t really feel certain to following the system already concocted from previous rap acts.

“You generally is a staple artist; you’ll be able to change music with out doing what the remainder of the town does. If we might simply affect artists that approach, I’ll be good,” he stated.

My afternoon with Sneed, Demahjiae and Ovrkast. ends with them making ready for a present at Commune Bar in downtown Oakland. All three are engaged on their soundcheck whereas transferring their tools from the basement to the efficiency stage. Their beginnings could also be humble in the intervening time, however the progress these three have made during the last two years in creating their artistry has catapulted them to the highest of the listing as artists to observe within the metropolis coming into the brand new yr.


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