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 If you're not from Oakland, then what we're seeing is like nothing you've ever experienced ...



Page 2


 "It's the music that makes these youngsters flambost to the highest degree." ...



Page 3


 "You're not going to catch me doing none of that." ...



Page 4


 "We about to sleep in the end zone. Ya smell me?" ...


My Block: The Bay
Keyshia Cole literally takes MTV back to her block and talks about why she had to leave the Bay, only to come back a star.






 Miami: High & Low



 Welcome To The "A"



 The Hustle & Flow Of Memphis



 Why Houston?





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Compared with the wildness of the East Bay, over in San Francisco, the stomping grounds of certified hip-hop hustler JT the Bigga Figga and veteran lyricist San Quinn, it's much more calm. The independent hustle is still heavy, but in San Fran, especially in the Fillmore district, the music isn't hyphy.

"I'm with the hyphy movement — and it is a movement, it's not about individuals," Quinn said while standing in the Fillmore district, surrounded by about 40 guys clad in red T-shirts, ball caps and red bandanas. "But my raps ain't funny. It ain't nothing funny about what I'm servicing."

The 28-year-old Quinn, who's been releasing strong-selling records independently since he was 14, stands by his declaration that he's the best rapper in the Bay, and many locals agree. He's certainly one of the most consistent.

"People respect me because of how long I've been doing it and how young I was [when I started]," he says with a serious smile. "I'm the greatest rapper ever created, they just don't know it yet. I want to be on MTV every day. We mean business."

Quinn was actually discovered by JT the Bigga Figga, who scored a record deal with Priority in 1992 when he was just 20 years old. Interestingly, JT would run across a young rapper calling himself the Game about a decade later, and help the Compton youngster make his initial street albums.

During the past three years, JT has been making a living primarily from his street DVDs. It's obvious Bigga still has the zeal and the skill to rap, but it seems his true calling has been showing younger artists the way to hustle their music without the backing of a major label.

"All this waiting-for-a-deal stuff, we ain't with all that," JT advises. "We're gonna keep pressing music and we gonna make enough to feed our families."

Still, Too Short says that's not enough. He wants to see all these burgeoning local and regional stars go on to national fame like his peers from his era.

"It's my responsibility to put in all I can put in to try and see this to the surface," Short says later while standing amid a horde of parked cars and motorcycles outside Ben's burger joint in East Oakland. "It's been a movement, it's been fun, but I can't be satisfied until these youngsters are going to the bank and depositing checks behind this music. I been talking to 40 and saying it's been a long time and we just can't step away from the game without passing the torch down. So I'm giving anybody that needs some record business game, some music-making game. That's my responsibility. Until this thing starts generating millions, we just gonna be at the drawing board."

"I been carrying the Bay on my back since '96 when we kinda fumbled — we had the ball and we fumbled. Now we finnin' to recover."        - E-40

"It's gonna take teamwork from all angles," E-40 adds while standing outside his Fat Burger restaurant in Vallejo — we say "his" because he's co-owner, along with former pro bowl Oakland Raider Chester McGlockton. "Everybody has to [be involved]. Once we do that, we gonna be all right. You gotta unite with it. I been carrying the Bay on my back since '96, when we kinda fumbled — we had the ball and we fumbled. Now we finnin' to recover, we don't need no interception, no fumbles. We about to sleep in the end zone. Ya smell me?"


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