What’s good folks, it’s ya man SumOfMan, legendary freestyler, Father of the Year, and founder of The Oakland Mind. Today we doing a top 12 hip-hop list for the end of 2020 going into 2021. It’s a top 12 and not a top 10 cuz I’m black and we can do that. Forreal tho, there were just too many dope songs to end at a top 10. These songs represent some of the best tracks coming out of the bay, from bay area natives over the last 6 months. Some are founding fathers, others hometown heroes, either way, they all impact the music and collective consciousness of the bay. Check out the playlist to hear all of them in rotation. Check the link:
Also, check out Oakland Mind’s list for the 30 Day Bay Challenge. Gaming you up on albums that shaped bay area culture. Link below:
Top 12 Bay Area Hip Hop 2021
E-40 “Mob” prod. by Mekanix: Gotta start off with a living legend, 40 Water himself, E-40. The track is reminiscent of hyphy, modern Bay Area gangsta music, and classic 40 flow while also bringing fresh elements into the mix. Some people thought 40 fell off, I ain’t one of them. To me he’s sharper than ever. There’s so much game in this song you can plug in yo’ Xbox and play it. Make sure to play this at high volumes in residential areas.
Kevin Allen “Jesus Sandals”: Formerly known as the rapper Erk the Jerk he transitioned to Kevin Allen, his birth name, a few years ago. He’s been deep in social movements since back in the day and through the process of maturation came out a new man. The flow is practiced, poised, but no less hard than his hyphy era days. The biggest change is the content. You could tell there are years of wisdom behind these bars. Shout out to Grand Nationxl who he’s a part of and also made it on this list.
Too $hort ft. Guapdad 4000 & Rayven Justice “OAKLANDISH”: Another Bay Area legend Too Short brings a banger to the table. With a video dropping mid-December featuring rising artist Guapdad 4000 and hometown hero Rayven Justice. Short Dogg is as smooth and laid back as ever, Guapdad brings that new flavor to the table, rounded about Rayven Justice barring the melodies. If the name and content weren’t enough tribute to Oakland and the bay area in general the video has hella cameos of iconic locations and figures. Too $hort is back!
Grand Nationxl “Hook Mitchell”: Grand Nationxl is like when the big homies who rap start making music together. All of the folks on the roster are OGs to me and been rapping for a minute. Some are just starting to bubble, others been bubblin’ for a minute. No matter where they at, they all coming with it. Honestly, it’s surprising how many people could fit comfortably on one track. You don’t see this many emcees working together every day. It’s a blessing. Shout out to Hook Mitchell and all of our fallen icons out there.
Locksmith “Black Holocaust”: This track barely makes it on this list, dropping in late July. Locksmith has always been one of the bay’s most talented lyricists, lately though he’s been on his square. There isn’t a bar on this song that don’t hit when he drop it, not one wasted line. His cadences make you want to follow every word to the tee. A lot of rappers whose bars are as dense as he don’t fill their lines with so much meaning. This the kind of song you can teach your kids with. My man’s mad well thought, his writing, subject matter, and clarity shine through, giving listeners the kind of knowledge normally only found in books.
Flash Gumby “Questions”: I remember seeing Flash Gumby when he first starting coming through to some of the local events. Since that time he’s developed his skills as a producer and artist. He got a funny ass facebook timeline too. To me, he represents a new wave of music in the bay area. Taking our classic style and innovating it. This song sounds like something that belongs in a movie and this young man belongs on the charts.
1.A.M “Duffle Bag” feat. Señor Gigio: This track caught me by surprise. Two dope, unique emcees who are also friends of mine. Its bay area in the vein of Del the Funky Homosapien, but it also reminds me of beastie boys beats. 1.A.M goes hard in the opening lines, Señor Gigio starts out smooth with sharp punchlines, the dichotomy works well together. Stylistically it’s bay area hip hop at its finest.
D’Wyze “Stealth” feat. CMT Miraculous (Prod by SpyderBeatz): Another Bay Area banger, this track is a G-Funk as it gets. We talking about the late 80’s Conscious Daughters era. It’s like somebody had a mixtape from that time that they waited to release in 2020. Vibes is classic, laid back, and dripping with style. You really can’t tell them s***.
Clemy Contraband “Where I’m From”: This one is a personal favorite of mine. First of all, this is the best flip of “Wishing on a star” I’ve ever heard. Second, he one of my homies, we actually game together. Third, it really represents the different sides of bay area music. He has the gutta side to him and that beauty that only comes from surviving the streets. Growing up in, out and around the streets of the Bay, I always got a soft place in my heart for artists who tell the story of me and my peers. It takes real skill to make an experience that can be so grimy so beautiful.
Jane The Message “Self Rescuing Princess”: The animation for the video may be cute, but the lyrics are far from it. Hidden behind a bouncy beat is an intricately mapped story of a princess who saves herself. It takes the classic princess trope, turns it on its head, and turns it into a rap song. I’ve been listening to Jane for a minute and this is unique, even for her. I’m a big fan of pushing the envelope and this definitely does the trick. It also gives folks in the younger audience another perspective to grow up with.
Damion X “Black Queen”: Take new bay style, make it conscious and you got “Black Queen”. Like I said I’ll always have love for the streets and whatever it produces, but what I love even more is the evolution of the streets into consciousness and music that can bridge the barrier. This song is a banger that can be slapped at high volumes in residential areas all over. What’s also dope about this project is that the video is produced by the Black Film Club, a bay area visual arts collective. Plus it’s about black women, y’all know we all love black women.
Amani Jade “Break” Accompanied by Brycon: Speaking of queens my queen makes this list. Not because she my partner and we love each other, but because she dope in her own right. When it comes to rap I’m very stubborn on what I put my stamp of approval on and I tell her all the time that I think she a better rapper than me, sincerely. The intricacy alone is impressive, coupled with the subject matter, cleverness, and sheer amount of bars is a recipe for success. You also got Brycon on beats, who has a classic almost hieroglyphics-like style with ear-catching shifts and changes to accompany the lyrics. The beat itself is living.
Honorable Mention: Mista Vicious “Past Life” feat. Breana Marin – This one is a real heartfelt story with velvet vocals. We done all felt this way at least once. To me, it’s a real mature way of looking at our own experiences and love. It helps me to remember to love myself. It’s only honorable mention because there’s no youtube link, but it deserves to be on this list.
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