Stupid, Dumb, and Hyphy
I've been meaning to post something about the Bay Area hip hop scene for a while now, since it seems to be one of our more vibrant scenes these days. I am a fan, but by no means an expert. With that in mind, I want to recommend a compilation I've been digging called "Bay Area Best of 2005 - Bring Da Slumpah", but I can't find anything about it on the web. So if you're lucky enough to live here in the Yay Area, pick it up at Amoeba Records. Otherwise, allow me to direct you to Get Stoopid, a fine blog providing mp3s and insight, and also The Bay Is In The Area. Or use whatever means you have to find tracks by Mac Dre, The Frontline, The Team, The Federation, Messy Marv, Mistah F.A.B., E-40, El Dorado Red, JT The Bigga Figga, and a ton of others I'm forgetting or don't yet know.
The Bay Area sound, though far from being consistent, to my ear can be characterized largely by what we used to call "balls-out club music." Synthesizer driven, faster tempos, hookier choruses, more dancable beats. Check out this remix: Mistah Fab & Scweez - Stupid, Dumb, and Hyphy (via Get Stoopid). Yes, this song is stupid, but imagine it coming out of giant club speakers at 2am and you should get the idea.
The lyrics you'll hear in this music are pretty opaque if you don't know the slang. Most people have probably heard "hyphy" by now -- it's kind of our Bay Area version of "crunk". But do you know "thizzin"? This article by Erik Arnold I spotted in the East Bay Express a couple of weeks back explores both terms, as well as providing a good entry point to the scene in general.
If you want to go a little deeper, this Thizzle dance instructional video will show you how to get stupid in five easy steps. Once you've mastered the Thizzle dance, you'll need to know a little more about the legendary Mac Dre.
I'm swearing off mainstream hip hop for now -- there's too much going on right here. Snoop will still be there when I get back.