Image via Thizzler on the Roof
The Bay Area doesn’t sleep, and neither does Yousef Srour.
Welcome to the BAY AREA TYPE BEAT series, a recurring column in which Yousef Srour sheds light on Bay Area artists and Bay Area-adjacent artists. Each week, he handpicks five cuts that are either brand new or have been victims to the Spotify algorithm. Lo and behold, BAY AREA TYPE BEATs:
TearitoffGreezy – “4ShitNoHoeShit”
A$AP Rocky was recently tapped for the Need for Speed: Unbound Soundtrack, but TearitoffGreezy should have been the number one pick. “4ShitNoHoeShit” sounds exactly like the last few seconds that play in an arcade racing game. Greezy would recommend that you press the glowing yellow button to fire up your NO2 so that the arpeggiating synths from TearitoffGreezy’s instrumental can burn throughout the car’s exhaust.
TearitoffGreezy paints himself as the kingpin of Sunnydale. His first line tears you down: “Aye, stop talking about those skits, my young n****s got more bodies.” He’s earned authority and doesn’t skip a beat to acknowledge that. As he humbly boasts, “I’m a certified stepper, you know I’m good at what I do,” a quick reaffirmation of legacy. He’s become a superstar in San Francisco. He’s the heartbreaker of his circle. Greezy explains: “I done broke some bitches heart because they n****s on a tee.”
The pulsating, one-beat loop races with urgency. The San Francisco-based rapper barely takes a breath while he’s rapping, enunciating every syllable, contradicting the laid back spitters from The City that have gained traction in the past (i.e., Larry June, Andre Nickatina, etc.). The slow countermelody that builds from the hypnagogic 808s bends sinister against the synthesizer, painting Greezy as the game’s unbeatable boss.
EBK BCKDOE – “This Christmas”
How The Grinch Stole Christmas showcased even the most sacrilegious creatures abiding by the archaic red-white-green color scheme of Christmas. The Grinch tiptoes in green fur, wearing a red and white fuzzy coat, made to look like Santa Claus. But that was before That’s A Awful Lotta Cough Syrup came into fashion. That was before the invention of Western medicine, and most notably, the purple sludge of codeine; the same ooze that tints the music video for “This Christmas.”
On “Otis,” Kanye West and Jay-Z sampled Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” to illustrate how money needs to be handled with a delicate hand. For EBK BCKDOE, the sample brings in the holiday spirit, something reminiscent of “that Christmas movie with Chris Brown in it,” as he mutters before the gooey 808 joins the festivities. As BCKDOE distorts his voice to become gravelier, he raps about cutting off a Karen in lieu of a Heather and popping half of an RP pill. That’s what Christmas is all about. The season is built for mildly psychedelic ventures into your neighborhoods’ front yards, and EBK BCKDOE is wobbling around to a loop of Otis Redding scatting, “na na na.”
Ovrkast. – “JUSTBCUZ”
When the stars twinkle above Ovrkast., he doesn’t think about infinity and the astrology-influenced serendipity of each and every moment. Ovrkast. thinks back to “all the goats that fell off” and the latest additions to his tax write-offs. The equivalent of Open Mike Eagle’s rhyme scheme scribbled over an Alchemist-produced Griselda beat, Ovrkast. dusts off the keys of an electric piano and brushes his ride cymbal to accompany a singular verse.
Where others might deem the beat ethereal, the song flutters away into a dreamscape, created with the live drumming that’s pictured in his music video. Ovrkast. is an incarnate of ‘90s MPC lore, selling drum kits on his website with kicks and snare drum hits that he’s played himself. The process proves methodical and intimate – the 84-second track unwinds itself as dissertation against planned movement. The one-off single on Ovrkast.’s YouTube channel plays as a journal entry, born from a practice session trying to build his pen; perhaps a freestyle, perhaps sprawled marks in his rhyme book that he needed to get off his chest.
Ovrkast. briefly explains his path to greatness, overcoming sadness and mania to become the future of Oakland poets. He archives the jazz scene that once reigned the city, flipping double-entendres to embody the goofiness in hip-hop that the city adored in the ‘90s and early ‘00s with Too $hort and E-40, causing ripples in samples like Lake Merritt on a lazy Sunday.
Kai Bandz x DaBoii – “No Cappin”
Kai Bandz opens “I fell asleep high as fuck and woke up with a bad bitch.” The plaid bucket hat of Mac Dre finds itself interpolated as a Burberry bucket hat, using Vallejo lingo to tell an unfabricated story with the title, “No Cappin.” With SpaceBoyTaj’s production, the muted trumpet riff animates Kai and Daboii, painting them as the mischievous ghosts from a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Just as Mac Dre would go toe-to-toe with Mac Mall or Andre Nickatina on full-length collaborations, Kai Bandz enlists DaBoii as they rap with the same nonchalance as Bay Area antiquity, but with the echoing bass and snare hits of today.
DaBoii continues the California tradition, warping his voice in a style that calls to mind “Lodi Dodi” from Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. Instead of running through his morning routine first, DaBoii cuts straight to the conversation: “Bitch left the house for ten minutes, ‘Where you been babe?’” His voice oscillates to tell various stories that seem erratic, but as he continues with one-liners about foul-smelling hookups and forgetting his lyrics, DaBoii uses the beat to establish morals that are as old as time. He loathes gluttony, yet succumbs to lust everytime; he sees his own morality in his son, yet he’s willing to unleash wrath upon anyone who puts a hand on his brother; he forewarns the greed of his opps, but he has too much pride to stop flexing.
Mac J x Bris – “Feisty”
To give you the understatement of a lifetime: Mac J has suffered quite a bit over the past couple of years. Photoshopped into a heart on his latest album cover are two photos of Bris and Young Slo-Be, smiling alongside bright yellow daisies. A testament to their lives and friendship, both of the two artists have posthumous features on the project. Mac J had worked closely with Slo-Be on his final album, Southeast, and he had an entire 2019 tape with Bris titled Big Headed. Aptly titled True Story, Mac J’s album presumingly alludes to a lyric from his most popular collaboration with Bris, where Mac sneers: “It’s true story or it’s no story.”
Glistening bells bleed into an R&B sample with a simple harmony. You hear an “ah” and “ooh” before the low-tone, muddy 808s go off. As Mac J bounces, he immediately explains a sentiment that was shared between him and Bris: “Don’t go against the game, it get feisty / I think I found the reason that they don’t like me.” As a pair, they’re almost unstoppable. Bris with his sharp whispers and Mac J with his cartoonish intonation, the two rappers consistently challenged the mainstream sound in Sacramento. “Feisty” is no exception.
While Mac J continues to poke fun at his peers, describing his new idea for merchandise: “Put a n***a on a white tee,” Bris ad-libs silenced gunshots “pah pah pah” as he claims to be popping pimples. The song plays out like a sketch comedy skit, with Mac J and Bris as a Sac iteration of Kenan & Kel. They never take themselves too seriously, and maybe that’s why they’re misunderstood as being “feisty;” no one else even came close to comprehending their style.