Hip Hop is Everywhere in Oakland
By Amanda Davis
I’ve been an avid concert-goer since about 8 years old (thanks mom!) and I’ve seen tons of artists all over California. But since moving to the Bay Area, I’ve noticed something incredibly special about Oakland’s music scene compared to other parts of the Bay. It really is an entirely different world. The people, the art and the music have spawned a culture unique to Oakland with an elevated level of acceptance and open-mindedness–something that’s hard to find lately.
When it comes to the hip hop community, Oakland has blossomed some of the biggest names in the music industry and the city’s talent (and their eye for it) is undeniable. If you’re planning to catch up and coming hip hop acts in the East Bay, you have plenty of options.
Hip hop is everywhere in Oakland. The city literally oozes soul. Locals have opportunities to see known artists at big venues or get in on one of the many (cheap) annual festivals. One of the most evolved of these is Hiero Day, an all-day hip hop event going six years strong, where I’ve seen acts from Kehlani and Casey Veggies, to Anderson .Paak and Goapele…and all when the event was still free. They charge for tickets now that the show has picked up a little speed, but early birds can still get in for $20.
Every fall for the past five years, Oakland Music Festival has showcased artists like Antwon and Goldlink as a way to support the city’s arts and culture. For incomparable Indie-R&B hip hop vibes, the best place to look is Feels, an annual event hosted by Wine and Bowties coming up on its sixth year. Past shows have brought in performers like Moses Sumney, Abra and Toro y Moi, in addition to tons of local multimedia artists.
I’ve had some of my best experiences at venues such as The New Parish and Fox Theatre. Both provide incredible show views and have an array of insanely badass artists come through their doors. Childish Gambino (during his Before the Internet phase and probably one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen), The Internet and Princess Nokia are just a few examples of names these spots have hosted.
A lot of smaller hip hop/R&B acts veer toward Oakland rather than San Francisco. Artists like the amazing Daniel Caesar, SZA, and Kaytranada are a few on the long list of those who made a stop in Oakland before making it to the big league. Even Kendrick Lamar performed at The New Parish before taking on the Oracle Arena just last year. Although the Oracle show was completely amazing, Arena tours will put a giant hole in your wallet.
My advice: find artists you love before others know how incredible they are.
Luckily, Oakland is the perfect place to discover the next big thing in music. Somehow….they just know. And it’s a pretty sure bet that they’ve already booked a performance somewhere within it’s 78 square miles. If you happen to believe that you are the next big thing, the city offers several privately owned venues, such as Geoffrey’s Inner Circle and Starline Social Club, that work to book shows for fresh talent. Both clubs have long played a role in Oakland’s rich hip hop history culture.
Try these on to keep you warm over the next few cold months:
That may help hold you over until festival season begins.