A few years ago, it seemed like the Bay Area hyphy movement was here to stay. Predicated on kids spazzing with Ninja Turtle backpacks and ghostriding their momma's cars, the hyphy movement was the biggest thing to hit rap since, well, crunk, just the year before.
Okay, so that's a bit of an overstatement. In reality, very few people actually believed that hyphy would weather the years and the fickle nature of pop fans. It was ridiculously fun and a long overdue breath of fresh air while it lasted, but it was too cartoony to sustain its own momentum; too niche-y to really take over. But two significant things came out of the brief "Yay Area" frenzy of '06: (1) Rappers started to lighten the fuck up, and dropped at least some of their preoccupation with being "hard," and (2) the hype reinvigorated the Bay Area rap scene, and drew national audiences to see what else was happening around Oakland aside from E-40 and the Coup.
To that end, artists like Keak da Sneak, the Federation, Nump, and Traxamillion finally began to get their due, and now two artists currently stand poised to carry the Bay into hiphop's future: Turf Talk and Mistah F.A.B. The new albums by these rappers, West Coast Vaccine (The Cure) and Da Baydestrian, respectively, demonstrate that it's way too early to write off Oakland just yet, and that the up-tempo, bass-heavy signature tropes of classic hyphy can continue to be incorporated into serious, sustainable hiphop.
West Coast Vaccine is one of the stronger rap albums of the year, with Turf Talk's loopy staccato weaving in and out of some monstrous synth lines and Afrika Bambaataa samples. F.A.B. might always be best known as the guy who recorded "Ghost Ride It," which was the catchiest use ever of a Ray Parker Jr. sample, but in Da Baydestrian, he proves that he can rock the mic for a full 17 tracks.
If you want to show up tonight with your Donatello slippers and dreads flying, I'm sure you won't be too out of place: The ecstatic spirit of hyphy still lingers. But more significantly, if you value lyricism and dope beats over pop fads, you owe it to yourself to see these two West Coasters bring the Bay into the future.