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Davis, California

Friday, July 12, 2024

Still hyphy

It’s the start of a new quarter, and spring is in the air. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming; a new season is upon us. Why not take the chance to capture the spirit of spring with a hyphy show right on campus?

The ASUCD Entertainment Council is presenting a show featuring Bay Area hip-hop group The Federation. The show is free and will take place Friday on the Quad at noon. In the case of rain, the show will be moved to Freeborn Hall.

For anyone who has lived in northern California over the past couple of years, the hyphy subgenre of hip-hop has established itself as a Bay Area mainstay. Rapper Stressmatic of the Federation described the appeal of hyphy music.

It has a certain sound, he said. It’s not New York style, it’s not down south. It’s the Bay Area sound.

Though hyphy has been around in the Bay Area since the nineties, its widespread recognition started around four years ago with artists such as Mac Dre, Keak da Sneak and E-40 – leaders of what was dubbed the hyphy movement.

It’s been a good number years into the hyphy movement, yet the origins of the phrase are still debatable. Frequently asked questions include: Who first coined the term? (According to many websites, it was Bay Area rapper Keak da Sneak). Another common query is the etymology of the word hyphy – is it a play on the word hyperactive? Stressmatic best summed it up in his description of hyphy music.

It’s just high energy music, Stressmatic said. I would say it’s the rap version of heavy metal.

Like many hip-hop cultures, hyphy has formed a unique dialect of its own, spawning some unusual phrases that have made their way into the everyday slang in northern California. Going dumb, getting stupid, thizz – these idioms reflect the sly humor of the hyphy culture and its playful nature.

Marked by a heavy bass and up-tempo rhythm, hyphy has also become a dance club and house party favorite.

It’s a representation of the Bay Area party culture, said mechanical engineering senior Aaron Lee. It’s something that isn’t mainstream.

According to senior communication major Barbara Dizon, hyphy music is an instant crowd pleaser. Dizon is a member of dance group MK Modern, who has used hyphy tracks such as E-40’s Tell Me When To Go in past performances.

The whole point of performance is the audience, so you want to incorporate songs that the audience will enjoy, Dizon said. Hyphy music gets the crowd going. Everyone dances and sings along. It makes us perform better.

Though there has been debate about the permanence of hyphy. Many have touted it as a trend that has long been played out, but a closer look at some releases from hyphy artists might prove otherwise. Music producer Rick Rock, who is regarded as one of the primary engineers of the hyphy sound, has also worked with artists such as Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes. Other Bay Area rappers have also gotten in touch with more mainstream rap artists. In their latest album It’s Whateva, The Federation collaborated with Snoop Dogg and former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker.

Despite any dispute of hyphy’s place in the larger genre, it has undeniably brought more attention to Bay Area hip-hop. Other cities outside of the Bay Area have also embraced the movement over the years, including Davis.

It’s just the natural way it goes, said junior technocultural studies major Ben Johnson, general manager at the campus radio station KDVS 90.3 FM. There are a lot of people in one place, a large population with a lot of diversity – it’s going to spawn artistic creativity.

Benny Ho, a junior civil engineering major, said in an e-mail interview that the expansion of Bay Area hip-hop was a positive thing.

I am from Oakland, and it’s good to see that the Bay is spreading around, Ho said. Music stays in the blood, so wherever we go, we’re going to spread the music undoubtedly.

Friday’s show will be the second hip-hop show the Entertainment Council has put on this year.

I know that hip-hop has been something that’s been underrepresented on campus and people want to see, said Entertainment Council director Emilia Varshavsky. We’re trying to explore different genres. The Federation is a good balance between mainstream and underground.

The Federation is a Fairfield-based hip-hop group that formed in 1998. The group consists of Stressmatic, Goldie Gold and Doonie Baby. Their free performance will be Friday at noon at the Quad. For more information on the group, visit federationmusic.net.


RACHEL FILIPINAS can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.


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