Brandon McFarland on Wednesday, Feb. 29th
If you wanted to hear new music from Bay Area artists a decade ago and you didn’t live in the area, you were just out of luck. If you did live in the area, you would have to drive to independently-owned record stores like Rasputins or Amoeba to find the latest tunes. And for the most part, this provided rappers to make a nice living right here at home. But what about the rest of the world?
Davey Boy Smith is a London-based DJ, and co-manager of hip hop site Southern Hospitality, who is responsible for bringing the Bay Area’s hyper localized rap scene to the UK. This year DBS has teamed up with Bay Area radio DJ, DJ Amen, for the Bay Area’s own showcase at SXSW called Young California. We talked with Davey Boy Smith as he gears up for this years most cracking music conference.
Turnstyle: It’s safe to say that Southern Hospitality specializes in hip hop from the south and Bay Area regions. Where did your affinity for Bay Area rap come from?
Davey Boy Smith: You might say that, but we’re DJs first and foremost, and the music we draw attention to on the blog is for the most part an extension of what we play in the clubs, or a prediction of which artists are going to be making great music in the near future. It just so happens that artists from the south and Bay Area make incredible club (and car and couch) music.
Southern Hospitality does have an affinity for Bay Area rap, though. In fact, you could say that without Thizz, there would be no Southern Hospitality in its current form. Back when myself and Rob Pursey used to write for UK rap magazine Hip-Hop Connection before it closed down, we really got to know one another through our shared love for Mac Dre, Thizz, Treal TV etc. This was back when it was all happening and pretty much no one outside the west coast was being exposed to it. We were even meant to do a massive feature on all the key Thizz-related artists but that got shelved for some reason.
Prior to the whole Thizz movement, we would listen to artists like Too Short and E40 but wouldn’t necessarily think of them in terms of a Bay Area scene. Thizz was a brand you could believe in, and coupled with the whole hyphy and ecstasy culture, it really just caught our attention and inspired us.
People need to know that Mac Dre and Thizz are the common denominators in a lot of what’s popping in the Bay right now, whether directly with the same people behind the scenes or a direct influence in style of music and energy.
The fact that you’ve got people like Kreayshawn signing major deals, IAMSU! on the verge, Drake showing love to Mac Dre, and just the Bay sound being so relevant right now brings both myself and Rob a lot of pride.
TS: SH has become one of the most well known platforms for Bay Area artists. What are the perks of being an honorary Bay Area music “factor”?
DBS: We definitely get a lot of love out in the Bay, from the artists, their managers, labels etc. We genuinely appreciate that and it’s all love back. We spent some time with Berner, let’s put it that way. And we’ve got a mixtape coming out very soon with DJ Amen. So stay tuned!
TS: The line up for Young California shows a wide range of what the The bay and Los Angeles have to offer. How difficult was it for you, and DJ Amen, to pick the line-up?
DBS: There were a few people involved in choosing the line-up. I don’t think anyone thought it was difficult. While they are, like you say, quite diverse, they’re all artists that excite us and crucially have potential to be global stars. The response to the event from our DJ and industry friends has been overwhelming, and the thought of all these artists performing in front of them is a beautiful thing. We’re very proud to be involved with the Young California movement. Much love to Amen, Will and Stretch for making this possible.
TS: I can assume SXSW this year will be your first time meeting some of the artists you’ve been endorsing. Which artists are you excited about seeing rock the Young California showcase?
DBS: We were involved with the Vibe and SMC event last year so we got to see Roach Gigz and Young L perform. This year, we’re most excited to see IAMSU! and the HBK Gang, A.k.a. Frank (whose My Dick Ain’t Racist song is massive at our parties in London, everyone knows every word to that track) and the legend Andre Nickatina. It’s going to be a legendary event. We can’t wait!