From Compton to Oakland, California is back on the hip hop radar with a vengeance this year. With an eclectic range of sounds and styles - from hyhpy-spirited party bangers to territorial street raps to trippy smoke-hazed production - SXSW 2014 Showcasing Artists Schoolboy Q, Problem, Sage the Gemini, and Mibbs of Pac Div are out to prove that the west coast might well be the best coast.
Oxymoron, Schoolboy Q’s third album drops on February 25th and is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year. With features from Raekwon, 2 Chainz, Tyler the Creator, Kendrick, and more, it is sure to be the release to propel Schoolboy Q into the mainstream spotlight. One of the key members of Compton’s Black Hippy Crew and Top Dawg Entertainment (with Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and Ab-Soul), his unique style combines an east coast flow with Compton gang references and slow, smoke-and-syrup infused beats.
RIYL: Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Dr. Dre
Sage the Gemini is the latest member of Bay Area crew HBK Gang to make a chart splash. The Fairfield MC’s first single, ‘Gas Pedal’, featuring Iamsu! reached number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and number 6 on the R&B/Hip Hop Chart) in March. His sound is characterized by finger-snapping dance-ready beats and fun-loving lyrics that clearly pay homage to hyphy Bay Area legends of the 90s. His first full-length album, Remember Me, is due for release this year. Go stupid!
RIYL: YG, Erk Tha Jerk, Jay Ant, Mac Dre
While Compton raised Problem maintains a strong sense of hood loyalty, he is no stranger to the Bay Area sound. Bridging the the Nor-Cal – So-Cal rap divide, he has featured on tracks by legends including E-40 and Too $hort, plus newcomers Sage the Gemini and Iamsu! (with whom he made the 2013 mixtape Million Dollar Afro). His latest mixtape, The Separation (with DJ Drama), mixes LA, Bay, and Atlanta influences, backed by radio-friendly production (courtesy of League of Starz). Nine mixtapes deep, his debut album is finally due for release this year.
RIYL: Iamsu!, Game, Nipsey Hussle
After two acclaimed releases with Palmdale, CA based group Pac Div, Mibbs is ready to show and prove on his own. His first solo endeavor, Freebass, dropped in June last year and is produced by Scoop De Ville - responsible for the Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Poetic Justice’ and ‘The Recipe’. With Scoop’s help, Mibbs solo marks a clear break from Pac Div’s classic 90s influenced sound. Freebass combines standard radio subject matter (strippers, weed, booze) with grimy, futuristic production - drawing on everything from gangsta rap to trap to chopped and screwed. Mibbs continues this new trajectory on his January release The Program.
RIYL: Cool Kids, Smoke DZA, Black Hippy
Keep up with the list of showcasing artists here.
Schoolboy Q photo by Ryan Hutson
Sage the Gemini photo courtesy of the artist
Problem photo courtesy of the artist
Mibbs photo courtesy of the artist