/Super Duper Hyphy Hyphy
Rewind a decade or so and you would find a version of me in an emotionally disheveled state with hip hop. I mentioned Cincinnati was the backyard of the south, but wherever I went there was no escaping the mainstream stranglehold of crunk music. Don’t get me wrong: I initially loved the big bass and simple, catchy hooks of crunk; but the lack of content and creativity in the lyrics department quickly made the sub-genre repetitive. I craved something fresh.
Tell Me When To Go
If you’ve heard any hyphy song, odds are good you’ve heard E-40’s Tell Me When To Go. I remember hearing this and thinking only one thing: MOAR. Although produced by Lil Jon, the beat had a fresh new sound to it. The flow and off-the-cuff slang were on par with what I’d previously heard from E-40, but this time it was situated perfectly over these outstanding drums. Then I saw the video and realized hyphy was more than just a new sub-genre of hip hop.
This was amazing. This was a brand new sub-culture that featured unique sounds, styles, and activities. If you’ve heard of ghost-riding the whip, this is where it came from. It was like a complete ecosystem had burst out of its confinement and exploded onto the mainstream stage to the surprise of everyone except, apparently, Bay Area residents.
I first heard Keak Da Sneak on the above-posted Tell Me When To Go. I was a bit perplexed by his style, to put it politely. The rhymes seemed off-kilter, half of the words didn’t make sense, and his voice sounded like Ned Gerblansky swallowed a lit pack of cigarettes. I liked it!
The unique slang was an integral part of hyphy. Granted, E-40 probably holds the crown for most words ever invented by a rapper, but Keak Da Sneak had his own vocabulary which I appreciated. Another appreciation for Keak Da Sneak is how much content he’s put out over the years. He’s got a steady history of releases along with a myriad of features. This is another favorite of mine with a more spectral feel to the beat.
Most surprising Keak Da Sneak moment was when I saw him give a speech at Hiero Day several years ago. Spoiler alert: His voice sounds normal when he talks.
Ghost Ride The Whip
Mistah F.A.B. is one of the more versatile rappers out. I’ve heard him crush freestyles, win battles, and make different types of music. Labeled early on as the crown prince of hyphy, I was surprised to see so much diversity in F.A.B’s body of work. He’s a solid rapper with some solid hyphy releases in addition to all of his other efforts. With regard to hyphy, he’s likely recognized outside of the Bay for his song Ghost Ride It, which I feel legally obligated to embed:
RIP MAC DRE
The progenitor of the hyphy movement is largely recognized as Mac Dre. While his tracks may not have the polished production of Lil Jon’s drums behind them, Mac Dre still brought an incredibly unique sound to hip hop. Unfortunately, Mac Dre passed away before my exposure to hyphy so I can’t recount any personal experiences other than my enjoyment of finding his songs on YouTube for the first time. This is my favorite and it still makes me smile whenever I hear it.
I was in Oakland earlier this month when a friend of mine sent me this article about the history and death of hyphy. It’s a pretty extensive read if you’re interested in some of the issues and relationships internal to the environment in which hyphy was cultivated. Sadly my time living in the Bay took place after hyphy had ended so I missed out on all the excitement in-person. We’d love to hear your experiences, though. Give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter.