Garrett Caples

Stalin: Darkness Visible

With his new album, Bay Area boss J.Stalin shines a light on Bay Area rap — and his own 12-year career

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arts@sfbg.com

I remember the day I met J.Stalin, 10 years ago. He bounced into the Mekanix's East Oakland studio, walked up to me, and shook my hand.Read more »

The secret life of Sylvia Fein

The 94-year-old painter comes to terms with her surreality in a new retrospective

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Break on through

Michael McClure reflects on his "beast language" classic

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Reality rap: Q&A with Saafir, the Saucee Nomad

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Ed. note – this week's music feature is all about emcee-producer Saafir, the Saucee Nomad. The wheelchair-bound associate of Hobo Junction and Digital Underground (and actor in 'Menace II Society') opened up to Guardian music writer Garrett Caples about his recent health struggles, making music, and what's keeping him in check. Here's the extended interview we couldn't fit in the print edition:

San Francisco Bay Guardian Did you have any idea [Digital Underground leader] Shock-G was going to post about you on Davey-D’s blog?

Saafir Actually I had no idea that he was going to put that out. Shock had came and saw me one time and I didn’t really tell nobody that I was in a wheelchair as far as the DU crew. I wasn’t really in contact with anybody. Nobody really stayed in contact with me. If you ain’t really hollerin’ at me, I’m not just gonna call you and be like, “Hey bruh, what’s up? I’m in a wheelchair.” Read more »

Injured player in the game

After surgery, Saafir, the Saucee Nomad is left wondering whether he'll ever walk again

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC "I have a new respect for people with disabilities," Bay Area legend Saafir, the Saucee Nomad says, sitting in his wheelchair in the East Oakland living room where he's temporarily crashing. "I was aware of their plight, but I never imagined how much strength it took mentally to deal with every day, day to day. It's a cold strength."Read more »

YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Waiting for Four-O

E-40 and Too Short's historic collaboration caps another strange year for Bay Area rap

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN MUSIC I'm at the Marina in Berkeley with J-Stalin around noon, waiting for producer-rapper Droop E to arrive so he and J can shoot a video for his upcoming EP, Hungry & Humble. I was invited, not by Droop but by his "Pops," Bay Area legend E-40, to do an interview for 40's epic, two-album collaboration with Too Short, History (HeavyOnTheGrind/EMI, 2012).Read more »

The new old school

After a stretch in Pelican Bay, G-Stack protégé Deev Da Greed returns to put the real back in Bay Area rap

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC "When I was growing up, bootsy wasn't in," Deev Da Greed says. "I wish I was rappin' when Seagram [1969-1996] was alive, when Rappin' Ron and the Dangerous Crew were shining. There were a handful of real rappers back then and if you tried to fake it you were blown out the water."Read more »

Smells like team spirit

Are hyphy progenitors Clyde Carson and the Team bigger than ever?

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MUSIC "This is our biggest song by far," Clyde Carson says wearily at his hotel room in San Jose. The song, "Slow Down," features Clyde alongside his newly reconstituted group, the Team, and we're waiting for Kaz Kyzah and Mayne Mannish to show. Mayne turns up, along with "Slow Down" producer Sho Nuff, but Kaz remains MIA, and the difficulty of keeping three rappers on the same page probably explains why the song is credited to "Clyde Carson featuring the Team," though it appears on the crew's reunion EP, Hell of a Night (Moedoe, 2012). Read more »

Garage Days re-revisited

Musical mentors to J-Stalin and other post-hyphy Oakland acts, the Mekanix lure E-40 into The Chop Shop.

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MUSIC In 2003, at Moses Music in East Oakland, I stumbled across a CD labeled "Numskull of the Luniz Presents...Hittaz on tha Payroll, Ghetto Storm" (Hitta Records). I bought it and was blown away, not simply by the rappers — one of whom, Eddi Projex, has gone on to be a Bay hitmaker — but also by the cinematic expressiveness of the music, with its moody, minor-key atmospheres and rapid counterpunctual basslines, courtesy of the Mekanix: Dotrix 4000 and Kenny Tweed.Read more »

Whatever happened to Baby Jaymes?

Seven years after his landmark Ghetto Retro, the Bay's hip-hop soul phenom returns with a new EP

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC One day in November 2004, my then-girlfriend returned to our Oakland apartment all excited. "I just heard this on KMEL," she said. She handed me a CD, Baby Jaymes, Ghetto Retro (Underground Soul), while she unwrapped the included Ghetto Retro EP and cued up "Nice Girl." "He sounds like Prince," she enthused—we were Prince geeks—"but he's from East Oakland!"Read more »