Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Balance a factor in the New Bay Incarnate...

East Bay Express Article on the West Coast rap renaissance.


So what changed, and when? While Locksmith's second-place finish at the MTV battle catalyzed the New Bay movement, it actually started at least a year earlier. In 2002, the Frontline (who first formed in 1996) teamed up with battle-hardened, turf-affiliated Oakland MC Balance (formerly of the group Tango + Kash) and a bunch of other artists, including the Federation's Goldie Gold, SF's Mr. Kee, Oakland's Mistah F.A.B., and Sacramento's Zac Wood for the Watch Out Now and New Bay mix tapes. Back then, this confederacy of fresh-faced artists called themselves the New Bay to signify their new way of thinking. Early Frontline material such as " and Locksmith, Left, by appearances during started branding term?s the dexterity; lyrical agile more discernibly with music mobb of attitude hard-nosed fused ?Workout? Califoolya? Balance on freestyle shows on SF commercial urban stations KMEL and WYLD, as well as LA's

In part, Balance says, the movement was born out of necessity -- appearing on freestyle shows was "probably the only way we could get on the radio at that time," he says. "We didn't have any connections. I'm not talking about payola and shit like that, but just who you know. 'Do you know the DJ, does the DJ know your music?'" Although "Nice Girl," his duet with Baby Jaymes, is currently clocking morning drive-time spins on KMEL, Balance recalls that "At that time, we weren't even thinking about radio."

"I never heard of the New Bay until Balance and those guys started yelling 'The New Bay,'" says Sean Kennedy, CEO of Ill Trendz, an Oakland-based record pool and urban marketing firm whose clients include national major-label artists and local indie hustlers alike -- Kennedy boasts that he personally took the Bullys wit Fullys album to Jazzy Jim Archer at KMEL and got it approved for airplay. "The first time I heard of the New Bay was during the freestyle sessions at KMEL in February of 2003," Kennedy recalls. "They were saying it on the radio. I never heard of it before, because they never had a platform before to promote that way."


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